REVIEWED BY ARAM KOUYOUMDJIAN
Productions staged by the Ardavazt Theatre Company frequently feature sprawling casts comprised of both veteran performers and novices. The differences in their acting experience and caliber inevitably keep the productions from maximizing their potential.
For the troupe’s latest production, however, artistic director Krikor Satamian has pared down the cast to a lean five members and has populated it with some of his best players. Maro Ajemian, Roupen Harmandayan, Alex Khorchidian, and Sossy Varjabedian indulge a sense of fun and flair in “Chorekshapti … Sirelis” (Wednesday … My Darling), as they portray two sets of married – but philandering – couples. (Narine Avakian, as a mistress in their midst, completes the quintet.) There’s not a weak link among them, and their lively performances make for enjoyable viewing – an impressive feat, since the play itself gives them no help in that regard.
Its dreadful script notwithstanding, “Chorekshapti” gets a lot right: Harmandayan anchors the production with just the right measure of physical comedy, Manoug Satamian’s tasteful set elevates its design aesthetic, and cleverly inserted music cues lend to its refinement.
None of that can ultimately save Derek Benfield’s formulaic farce and its banal plot about a string of infidelities – little of it worth detailing. The second act is nominally better than the first, but only if the viewer is willing to accept that affluent urbanites do not have cell phones, that a successful businessman owns only one suit, and that travel from Canada causes severe jet lag. (In the author’s defense, the play was originally written in 1982 and set in London, but Ardavazt has awkwardly moved the action to present-day Glendale).
I am left wondering what this cast could have achieved if it had been handed a witty and sophisticated Noel Coward script, or been let loose in Edward Albee’s acerbic world. I hope Ardavazt ponders similar questions now that it has met – if not exceeded – its quota of low-brow farces about infidelity.
Editor’s Note: Aram Kouyoumdjian is the winner of Elly Awards for both playwriting (“The Farewells”) and directing (“Three Hotels”). His latest work is “Happy Armenians.”