Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Russian Play 'Fortune's Fool' Makes Northeast Florida Debut

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Russian Play 'Fortune's Fool' Makes Northeast Florida Debut

Article excerpt

Byline: Tamara McClaran

Thanks in part to an "infamous, fatuous fop," life is not simple and easy in a mid-19th century Russian estate in Atlantic Beach Experimental Theatre's latest production, Fortune's Fool, which runs through Jan. 28. The Russian play by Ivan Turgenev and adapted by Mike Poulton is an entertaining blend of drawing room comedy and serious drama.

The story: Olya Petrovna (Rachel Fox), a newly married young woman, is returning from St. Petersburg with her new husband, Paul (Dwayne Holden), as the heiress of the rich country estate where she spent her childhood. In addition to the servants, impoverished gentleman Vassily Semyonitch Kuzovkin (Jack Barnard) is living at the estate and has been for 30 years.

Kuzovkin is an aristocrat whose own property has been tied up for years in a lawsuit, which keeps him impoverished. As we learn during a chess game with his friend, Ivan Kuzmitch Ivanov (Cliff Rigsbee), he is anxious about Olya's arrival and concerned he may be displaced. When the couple arrives, Olya's warm recognition appears to relieve Kuzovkin's fears.

However, things don't go as smoothly when neighboring nobleman Flegont Alexandrovitch Tropatchov (David Boyer) enters for a visit. Tropatchov is self-confident, pretentious and obnoxious. Along with his bankrupt sidekick, Karpatchov/Little Fish (Bob Glazener), he seizes the opportunity to humiliate Kuzovkin during a luncheon that leads to a drunken scene and Kuzovkin spinning out of control. The first act ends with a shocking revelation and the second act deals with its consequences.

Carson Merry Baillie, ABET's artistic director emeritus and the Fortune's Fool director, assembled a cast that combines new talent with several actors who bring years of experience to the stage. Fritz Reinhardt plays Nartzis Konstantinitch Trembinsky, the head steward in charge of the servants, and Gwen Cordes appears as Praskovya Ivanovna, the former nanny who is now the estate's housekeeper. …

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