Tom Stoppard's 'On the Razzle' Ends Clarence Brown Season

News Sentinel, April 20, 2013 | Go to article overview

Tom Stoppard's 'On the Razzle' Ends Clarence Brown Season


Director Gary English uses the words "farce," "word play," "comedy" and even "hypocrisy" when he talks about the Clarence Brown Theatre's upcoming production of "On the Razzle."

The University of Tennessee theater presents Tom Stoppard's "On the Razzle" April 25-May 12. Stoppard is an award-winning author whose other works include the play "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead" and the screenplay "Shakespeare in Love."

Set in Vienna and other spots in late 19th-century Austria, "On the Razzle" is a quick-paced and sharp-witted production. English in a recent interview alerted future audience members that they'd need to pay attention to what would play out before them.

The misadventures begin as the owner of a store decides to take the day off to go out of town. While their boss is away, the store's two clerks decide they too merit time off for some fun. So they close up the shop and head to the big city of Vienna.

The farce incorporates mistaken identities, misdirections and romantic complications played out with slapstick, multiple puns and physical comedy. Just to complicate things, Scottish tartan seems to be the Viennese fashion fad of the late 19th century.

While "On the Razzle" is definitely a farce, English says the play also is a satire and a commentary on social status and people's aspirations to climb. It illustrates the hypocrisy, he says, of every middle class to rise up socially as it tries to copy the upper class's manners, dress and pursuit of fun.

The play's cast is comprised of professional actors as well as UT graduate and undergraduate students. David Brian Alley and Cory O'Brien-Pniewski play clerks Weinberl and Christopher. Alley is a UT Department of Theater artist-in-residence whose most recent Clarence Brown performances include the 2011-12 "Kiss Me Kate." O'Brien- Pniewski is a second-year master's of fine arts acting student; his most recent work includes the title role of this season's "The Little Prince. …

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