The other night, while at a play
A woman in a crafty way,
Came up to me and with some cheek
Suggested for my next critique
A novel voice in which to chime:
Could I, she asked, review in rhyme?
It seemed at odds with journo’s laws
And could subject me to guffaws
But then I thought: Is it my brief
To give my editors such grief?
Why yes, of course, it must be so!
So fasten seat belts, here we go.
The play we’d seen was “Heir Apparent”
She made the dare; so now I daren’t.
It must be said from this point on
That staged by Shakespeare’s Michael Kahn,
This “Heir” bequeaths a laugh-filled purse
To those who like their plays in verse.
But if this style makes you think “coma,”
You might just stick with “Oklahoma!”
The work was written in the age
When “Renaissance” just left the stage
And now revised by David Ives,
Whose specialty is bright, new lives
For plays derailed off fashion’s tracks
And others fallen through the cracks.
Some may find the wit quite foul
As Ives’s jokes favor the bowel
(One may have seen his witty “Liar”;
Well, this one lifts the john puns higher)
Though all his modern jibes prove grist
For any sharp anachronist!
And buoyed by an expert cast,
Like Andrew Veenstra’s smooth Eraste,
This “Heir” delivers comic shocks
Recalling Gelbart’s wild “Sly Fox.”
With Floyd King, Nancy Robinette,
Kelly Hutchinson, as maid Lisette;
And Carson Elrod puts his spin
On a daffy sidekick named Crispin.
The actors grandly hold their sway
With this ancient French souffle.
The plot will not seem very deep
Unless you’re dim, or drunk, or cheap.
The tale is of a tightwad who
Has never parted with a sou.
The greedy rest conspire to fill
The dole-out sections of his will.
King’s a pro; this stage survivor
Can get a laugh with his saliva.
And for her timing: Sans regret,
We bow before Dame Robinette.
(The others are all swell, Lord knows.
Alas, their names are meant for prose.)
The set’s delish, by Alex Dodge;
The parlor of a Gallic lodge,
And for the duds they all cavort in,
We thank his mom for Murell Horton.
Thank goodness, too, for Ives’s rhythm;
It’s his clean style that keeps us with ’em.
The troupe calls this a “world premiere”;
Which might be painful to one ear:
Except he’s dead, so the canard
Is past concern for M. Regnard.
He’s the one who grabbed the quill
And dreamed up Geronte and his will.
So raise a flute to writers past,
Whose names we lose but dramas last.
And let’s hope somewhere he has news
His work can still get good reviews.
Adapted by David Ives from the comedy by Jean-Francois Regnard. Directed by Michael Kahn. Set, Alexander Dodge; costumes, Murell Horton; lighting, Philip Rosenberg; composer, Adam Wernick; sound, Christopher Baine; voice and text, Ellen O’Brien. With Clark Middleton, Meg Chambers Steedle. About two hours. Through Oct. 23 at Lansburgh Theatre, 450 Seventh St. NW. Visit www.shakespeare-theatre.org or call 202-547-1122.