Episcopal High School students are wise enough to play “Fools” to teach their audience an entertaining lesson in love and laughter.
Neil Simon’s comedy is about Leon Steponovich Tolchinsky, a schoolteacher who must cure a tiny Ukrainian town from a curse in twenty-four hours or become a victim of the curse himself. The curse is one of ignorance – the people of the town cannot be taught and must live their lives in utter stupidity. Matters are complicated by the fact that Leon falls in love with the beautiful but dumb Sophia, who must marry into the Youssekevich family in order to lift the curse. Since Leon is not a Youssekevich, it appears that the town cannot be saved. But the schoolteacher cleverly fools the fools into believing that he is Count Youssekevich’s son and everyone ends up realizing that the curse was all in their heads.
William Bell is eager and energetic as the determined Leon Tolchinsky. K.D Baker surprises the audience with her sometimes-intelligent portrayal of Sophia Zubritsky. And as Dr. Zubritsky, Alexander Keevil has wonderful facial expressions.
Extremely comfortable on stage and in his role, Kevin Stevens gives a memorable performance as Count Youssekevich. Playing Youssekevich in the likeness of Count Dracula, Stevens converses casually with the audience, connects well with other actors, and is hilarious from his first entrance to his curtain call. David Breeden, playing the Magistrate, also stands out-- he brings his part to life with an old man’s voice and stature.
The cast plays well off of the backwards door and upside-down pictures of a creative set that captures the unintelligent spirit of the townspeople. While the script is witty and amusing, the exaggerated, presentational style in which the actors perform sometimes prevents them from believably sinking into their characters. Despite a makeshift lighting system and a temporary performance space, the show is fairly consistent.
Ignorance isn’t always bliss, but Episcopal’s “Fools” is still a joy.