Round House's production of Mee's operatic farce sprawls off the stage onto two ramps built out into the auditorium, in a set designed by James Kronzer.
In the setting of a summer house in mid-winter,
four couples squabble over love, hilariously, and one dies for love, if only temporarily.
The entertaining play is somewhat more than scenes slung between several jaw-dropping set pieces. The first act closes in a flurry of crockery smashing while "Nessun dorma" is heard, while the ingenue Jonathan slams his noggin repeatedly into a birch tree center stage.
There is a dionysian revel in Act 2, what one might call the Dance of the Moons, that goes on a bit too long. Act 2 opens with a deft ballet of finding seats at a wake. The show-stopper, however, is (in Mee's words) "a performance piece of opera and door slamming."
There is a heart to this piece, however: it's the character of Bob (excellently played by the ursine Mark Alan Gordon), who arrives by snowmobile to deliver a composter. Bob is the voice of the ancients. He says:
And the Greeks thought:
people can't help themselves.
That's why people talk about falling in love,
because they didn't choose to step into love,
you never hear of someone who stepped into love,
they fell, they plunged, they lost themselves.
This theatrical piece of purple sentiment is a complement to Craig Wright's Melissa Arctic at the Folger, which also hinges on a winter disappearance.
One piece of stage machinery mars the mood: artificial snow drifts onto the stage from rather noisy equipment above.
Jerry Whiddon's very funny in-character pre-show no-cellphones/no-photography announcement raises the bar for all subsequent curtain speeches.