Las Vegas Little Theatre’s "Measure for Pleasure" is remarkable in that so much has gone right on so many levels.
David Grimm’s 2006 script is an affectionate, self-mocking salute to Restoration comedy — the naughty genre that helped 17th century England recover from its Puritan phase.
A valet falls in love with a young transvestite prostitute, who has the hots for a womanizing braggart, who desires the affections of a beautiful maiden. There are more pairings and complications, and, miracle of miracles, all lovers are happily united by evening’s end.
Mario Mendez’s direction is fast, furiously funny and first-rate.
And what a cast! Drew Yonemori as the valet comes across naive, earnest and attractive. And he knows how to deliver wisecracks while staying in character.
Troy Tinker is the perfect fop: verbose and vain. He makes you feel his character is constantly enjoying the sound of his own voice. (No wonder, though. Tinker sounds classically trained.)
John Dolpies as the transvestite is seen in several disguises, and he inhabits them all with conviction. His ability to humanize his role suggests major talent.
Valerie Carpenter-Bernstein, as a sensual and frustrated aging wife, gives the production a musical quality, with her neurotic voice, often quivering body and her wails of loneliness.
Christin Schreiber makes the attractive maiden much more than just a stunning physical presence. She comes off intelligent and kind and infuses the role with unexpected vocal variety.
Ryan Balint and David Sankuer’s set — grounded in a series of enormous gold curtains — gives the small stage an unusual sense of height. Ginny Adams’ floor lighting frames the action in pictorial elegance. And Penni Mendez’s tongue-in-cheek period costumes are ingenious, colorful and surprising. Pay close attention to the shoes.
What I found most amazing is that despite all the exaggerated foolishness, the production has a strong reality base. I believed these were characters with genuine needs. It’s easy to imagine how torturous this show would be if it were executed by performers who cared only about jokes.
Anthony Del Valle can be reached at vegastheaterchat @aol.com. You can write him c/o Las Vegas Review-Journal, P.O. Box 70, Las Vegas, NV 89125.REVIEW
What: "Measure for Pleasure"
When: 8 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays; 2 p.m. Sundays (through Feb. 5)
Where: Las Vegas Little Theatre Fischer Black Box, 3920 Schiff Drive
Tickets: $14-$15 (362-7996; lvlt.org)