By Suzy Williams

Have you had a good cry lately?   Have one at the Pacific Resident Theater: there are two gems by J.M. Barrie, and the second one’ll getcha. Both of them are about older women, younger men, and deception, and they’re both rife with witty Victorian English, as might be expected.  The first, “Rosalind,” is a delightful romp, addressing Barriesque explorations of “ever-youth,” but from a completely different angle than “Peter Pan.”  I was lucky to catch the director, Dana Dewes, filling in for the leading lady Saturday night.  She brilliantly met the challenge of the role of Mrs. Page, who goes through a remarkable transformation in this compact one-act. Like “Peter Pan,” the story is a stretch for the imagination, but with such supple writing and remarkable performances, disbelief is suspendible.  Kevin Railsback is charming as the handsome, baffled swain and at one point does a pantomime of frustration that is quite fun to see play out.

Nick Santiago, the set designer, did a bang-up job of changing the different worlds of these plays with a whirling backdrop that could have been made into a show in itself.

But it is “The Old Lady Shows her Medals” that holds the tearjerker cards. Penny Safranek and Joe McGovern turn in ace performances in a story of the glory of human desire to create and maintain human relationships.  Ms. Safranek is gamine and graceful as she comically displays her contrition and affection for a young Scottish soldier. Actor McGovern does the soldier to a T. He runs the gamut from macho bravado to … well, you’ve got to see it.

One thing about going to Pacific Resident, besides the sheer convenience of world-class theatre right here on Oakwood and Venice, is that returning to catch another play, you’re likely to see that actor who knocked you out two months ago doing something completely different, with a different hair color! It’s just so damn rewarding.

“ROSALIND” and ”THE OLD LADY SHOWS HER MEDALS” by J.M. Barrie

Directed by Marilyn Fox and Dana Dewes

Through October 2011

For reservations, call 310-822-8392

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