By Toby Zinman
For the Inquirer
Who knew there were so many rhymes in English? David Ives, that's who. The supersmart playwright whose plays have had recent local productions (New Jerusalem, Venus in Fur, and The Liar--could three plays be more different?), gives his devoted fans a new and hilarious show, The Heir Apparent.
Ives' adaptation from an 18th century French comedy by Jean-Francois Regnard, is written entirely in rhyme, performed by a cast as adept at physical comedy as they are at verbal acrobatics.
Director John Rando keeps the show filled with crude sight gags as well as verbal wit, where "venomous" rhymes with "enemas" (diarrhea becomes a theme) and "dowager" rhymes with "Howitzer," and "gaucher" rhymes with "kosher," and there are three little pigs named Julie.
Here's an excessive sample:
This is the basilisk, Madame Argante!
She whom the Prince of Darkness couldn't daunt.
She next to whom a rock looks nonchalant.
Who makes Godzilla seem a mad bacchante.
To whom Attila is a dilettante.
The plot is the usual Comedie Francaise formula: an old miser named Geronte (Paxton Whitehead) has a nephew Eraste (Dave Quay) who wants him to write a will making him the sole heir to his fortune, thus letting him marry the adorable Isabelle (Amelia Pedlow). In charge of the elaborate dupings are the clever servant Crispin (Carson Elrod) and the maid Lisette (Claire Karpen). In the course of various and devious shenanigans, there is a hilariously tiny lawyer named Scruple (David Pittu) and the aforementioned dowager (Suzanne Bertish).
There is not a weak link or a dropped syllable or a missed chance for a laugh among them.
At Classic Stage Company, 136 E.13th Street, New York. Through May 4.