Parkland Press

Monday, December 17, 2018

THEATER REVIEW Changing the 'Born' identity in Washington, D.C.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013 by DOUGLAS GRAVES Special to The Press in Focus

The Crowded Kitchen Players' production of Garson Kanin's "Born Yesterday" is a fast-paced comedy directed by Ara Barlieb about greed and sex in post-World War II Washington, D. C.

The play continues weekends through March 24 at McCoole's Arts & Events Place, Quakertown.

When smarmy, hard-drinking lawyer Ed Devery, played with erudite flair by Jay Fletcher, starts handing out cash, he finds congressional hands eager to be greased.

Jerry Brucker as Senator Norval Hedges turns in a classic portrait of a self-important and spineless politician more than willing to wheel and deal.

William Gibson's thuggish businessman Harry Brock and his lawyer, Devery, seek the politician's help in making a killing in the post-war "the junk business."

Bald and burly Gibson as the brutal and egomaniacal businessman Harry Brock commands the stage.

Beautiful Billie Dawn is Brock's sexy live-in girlfriend and is played with fire and ice by Rebecca Burroughs. But as a social asset, Billie falls flat when the uneducated girlfriend meets the senator's wife, Mrs. Hedges.

Suzy Barr Hoffman as Mrs. Hedges does a hilarious riff on an overbearing socialite, then displays tremendous thespian skills by also playing Helen, a coquettish chamber maid. She masters a third role as a chatty manicurist.

When Brock decides to upgrade Billie's IQ to score points on the political scene, he enlists handsome newspaperman Paul Verral (Dan Ferry) to educate Billie as to the whys and wherefores of the United States Constitution.

After a few verbal sparks and smoky looks, Billie and Verral soon hatch plans of their own. Under Verral's tutelage, her education improves as she goes from steamy to high self-esteem.

Billie also becomes the threat that lawyer Devery warned Brock against with an unfinished misquote from Alexander Pope's couplet: "A little knowledge is a dangerous thing …" She realizes she has more talent than turning a tight skirt into an eye magnet.

Rugged Michael Thew as Eddie is a perfectly believable assistant thug and stooge to Brock's menacing character. Stefan Goslawski proves his range in his roles as the barber and the bellhop.

The costumes by Pamela McLean Wallace are exquisite: pitch-perfect for the mid 1940's. Borroughs' costumes are especially noteworthy as they chronicle her transformation from kept sex kitten to a chic and smart Washington woman.

Multitalented Barlieb also designed and helped construct the set, a spare and believable luxury apartment with views of the White House. Nora Oswald's murals really bring a sense of being in Washington. Barlieb, as lighting and sound director, is flawless.