“Fools” Keeps Audience in Stitches

Mines Little Theater continued their season last Friday and Saturday with a production of Neil Simon’s “Fools.” The play was directed by Thorn Svendson and starred Will Spaeth and Angela Gift.

The play opens as arrogant young teacher Leon Tolchinsky (Will Spaeth) enters the small Ukranian town of Kulyenchikov. He is responding to an ad asking for a school teacher, which oddly enough had every word spelled wrong. Tolchinsky soon meets some of the citizens of the town and discovers them to be profoundly stupid. A shepherd named Snetsky (Wesley Pfeiffer), walks with his crook upside-down, has lost either two dozen or fourteen sheep, and cannot remember his first name. Mishkin the mailman (Noah Langford), Yechna the fish seller (Dasha Tolmacheva), the Magistrate (Thorn Svendsen), and butcher Slovitch (Ethan Morton-Gaught) are all equally unintelligent, further mystifying Tolchinsky.

However, the height of idiocy comes when Tolchinsky meets his pupil Sophia Zubritsky (Angela Gift) and her parents Dr. Zubritsky and Lenya Zubritsky (Travis Bybee and Kari Kron). Nineteen-year-old Sophia has only just learned to sit down and cannot master 1+1=2. Her parents, who believe the reason for man’s existence is 12, struggle to explain that the town has been under a curse of stupidity for 200 years, and Tolchinsky must break the curse. He has also fallen in love with Sophia at first sight.

Complicating matters is that he has only one day, or twenty-five hours, according to one resident, to break the curse. Also, Count Gregor Youskevitch (Tyler Orr) desires to marry Sophia in order to break the curse. Ultimately, Tolchinsky manages to team up with and then outwit Youskevitch to marry Sophia and break the curse.

On the whole, the cast was entertaining and captured Kulyenchikov’s madcap idiocy. Special note must be given to Orr’s performance as unwilling villain Gregor Yousekevitch. His second act monologue complaining about the audience’s apathy towards his fate was greatly amusing. Spaeth captured Tolchinsky’s bewildered, arrogant, love-struck intelligence, and Bybee, Kron, and Gift’s characters were impressively clueless. The townspeople were somewhat more understated but still performed admirably.

The audience had a wonderful evening watching the idiocy of Kulyenchikov and its ultimate redemption. Though MLT’s fall season has concluded, the club will return with the musical “Urinetown” in April.

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