The Miser: Nancy Takes A Wife | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

The Miser: Nancy Takes A Wife 

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THE MISER: NANCY TAKES A WIFE, Close Call Theatre, at Link's Hall. Anthony Pinizzotto's adaptation of Moliere's Miser asks us to accept not only that the title character is female but that she's none other than former First Lady Nancy Reagan, who's concealed her husband's untimely death so as to assume power herself in the Oval Office. We're also required to buy that young Ron Reagan is in love with Martina Navratilova, whom Nancy herself wants to marry. ("How did you fall from the liking of men?" asks Joan Quigley, the matchmaker, to which Nancy blithely replies, "I just said no!") Meanwhile Patti Davis feigns illness when not canoodling with a White House aide, Dame Edna bosses the household staff (which includes a chef with a vaguely Cajun accent), and a mysterious piggy bank is buried in the Rose Garden.

All this probably sounded like a good idea once, but the personalities of the Reagan regime are as remote today in public memory as are those of Louis XIV's court, and this satirical effort ultimately fails to say anything original about either. Janet Hurley does a great Wicked Witch of the West as Nancy/Harpagon; Dawn Lorraine Menzel's Quigley/Frosine is likewise fully realized; and the slapstick is executed with uniform expertise. But none of this fine work can rescue a misguided production busier than its concept or script can support.

--Mary Shen Barnidge

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