Just as Lord Fancourt Babberly was "no ordinary woman," Paul VI High School's production of "Charley's Aunt" was no ordinary play. This fast-paced turn of the century comedy had the same bite in 2005 as it did when it opened in 1892.
"Charley's Aunt" tells the story of three Oxford students and their misadventures while attempting to propose to their sweethearts. In the process one student, Lord Fancourt Babberly (affectionately referred to as Babbs) must dress as his friend Charley Wykeham's aunt, Donna Lucia D'Alvadorez. This provides the clever set-up for three acts of laughter.
The director, Karen Kelleher, a student a Paul VI High School, has a true knack for inventive, exciting, and appropriately frantic blocking. Each scene was filled with unsuspected creativity, much of it due to her talents.
Babbs (Anthony Arnista) claimed the stage for himself within his first few lines. As "Charley's aunt," Arnista took advantage of the props available to him. During the scene in which Stephen Spettigue proposed, each time Spettigue (Steve McGonigle) moved toward him, Babbs, seated in a lawn chair, tactfully hopped farther away from his pursuer.
Charley Wykeham (Chris Stinson) played a very believable Oxford boy, and the friendship between Charley and Jack Chesney (C.J. Bergen) was flawlessly chummy. Donna Lucia D'Alvadorez (Shauna Mojaddidi) was a much needed calm in the frenzy of cross-dressing and romantic pursuit. Mojaddidi played the aged woman with the control of a much older and more experienced actress.
Though some of the characters looked more distinguished than necessary due to an over-appliance of stage make-up, most of the actors didn't let their masks of foundation diminish their performance. The student-run sound, however, was impressive as not one microphone problem could be identified.
The comedic timing was impeccable. The characters were memorable. The direction was original. Frankly, "Charley's Aunt" was anything but "deuces."