Razzle dazzle

By By Rebecca Higgs

By Rebecca Higgs

Directed by Michael Unger, Tom Stoppard’s “On the Razzle” opened at the Babcock Theatre last Wednesday as the theater department’s annual senior show.

Stoppard’s slapstick comedy tells the story of Herr Zangler, an Austrian merchant who is trying to protect his giggly niece from a shifty suitor while attempting to procure his own marital happiness. Meanwhile, Danny Kaye-like Weinberl looks after Zangler’s shop until he, too, gets caught up in the action.

As with other screwball stories, the characters in “On the Razzle” whip themselves into a delightful, tangled mess of lies. Each character’s desire is dependant on another’s.

“One false move,” as Zangler says at one point, “and we could have a farce on our hands.”

The play, first performed in 1981, is based on Johann Nestroy’s 19th century play “Ein Fux Will Er sich Machen,” which has inspired other works such as Thornton Wilder’s “The Matchmaker” and “Hello, Dolly!” Stoppard has also written for the screen, including the films “Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead,” “Empire of the Sun” and “Shakespeare in Love,” for which he won an Oscar.

“On the Razzle” keeps you laughing, and with the Babcock’s intimate atmosphere, you feel like you’re in on the jokes,” said Elizabeth DeBroux, who works in the languages & literature department.

In particular, Sean Kazarian’s performance as Herr Zangler, the “Casanova incarnate,” is spot on. With boisterous comedy, Kazarian makes the ridiculous cowboy-boot wearing Zangler both laughable and likable.

The only drawback to a comedy like “On the Razzle” is that acting tends to be a bit forced and overdone. Some lines were delivered in a hasty manner, so sometimes it was difficult to understand what the actors were saying. But this is perhaps attributed more to the slapstick genre than the talent of the actors.

The costume design and make-up are also worth mentioning. Zangler looked, quite rightly, absurd; the dubious characters appeared diabolical and the French maid was French enough. The horse is another highlight of the show (allow for sparse explanation here, as the element of surprise is part of the horse’s fun).

“On the Razzle’s” dialogue is witty, its action fast-paced and its characters likable. Besides, any production that uses the word “agog” is worth a look-see.

To quote Zangler’s servant Melchoic, this production is, in a word, “classic.”

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