THEATER REVIEW: A Pair of Edith Wharton Comedies @ Shakespeare & Company [Berkshire on Stage]
Review by Roseann Cane
Known primarily for her witty, insightful short stories and novels about America’s upper class, Edith Wharton (1862-1937) had a sharp-eyed insider’s view of those who lived lives of privilege. This daughter of privilege traveled widely throughout her life. She was also the first woman to win a Pulitzer Prize (for The Age of Innocence in 1920), and a dedicated intellectual who counted Sinclair Lewis, Henry James, André Gide and Jean Cocteau among her closest friends.
Shakespeare & Company founding member Dennis Krausnick has adapted two of Wharton’s short stories, Roman Fever (first published in 1934) and The Fullness of Life (first published in 1892) into one-act plays, which are now appearing as A Perfect Pair of Wharton Comedies at the Company’s Elayne P. Bernstein Theatre in Lenox.
Stylishly and skillfully directed by Normi Noel, both plays feature the same cast of three fine actors – Corinna May, Diane Prusha and David Joseph. Patrick Brennan’s sets capture the time (and in one case, the timelessness) and place of both plays very nicely, transporting us to a fine hotel in 1930s Rome, and later, to a waiting area in the Hereafter. Stephen D. Ball’s lighting design is beautifully wrought, and Amy Altadonna has done a lovely job with sound design