Review: Mrs. Mannerly at Little Lake Theatre

Vivid and colorful characters give the audience a hardy laugh and a classic night out at the theatre.

Review by Britt Haefeli, originally published on 8/16/2023

Simply electric performances, which turned out to be ironic for this show’s opening night!

Thursday, August 12th, ended up being quite a storm and whirlwind of a night.

The audience of this black box show from the Little Lake Theatre discussed how treacherous the storm outside brewing seemed to be, then silenced by the opening line. Two characters, so incredibly distinct, took the stage. An older woman, Mrs. Mannerly, donned in a bright red dress, making it clear attention was to be on her. Then a young man, dressed in schoolboy attire, navy blues, and tan tones, addressed his love of his past. The lady in red, shrouded in mystery, while the young man began to recount memories of his youth. Two dynamic characters, one black box theatre, and a storm of entertainment to come.

This stage held an air of nostalgia, each piece of furniture representing a different scene that was to be shown. A classroom aimed to teach the ins and outs of manners, perhaps an outdated practice now, but it was a dying art at the time of our protagonist’s story. These two actors unveiled an ability of dynamic physicality. Arjun Kumar, playing the role of Jeffrey Hatcher, toggled between the ten-year-old version of his character and the narrative adult with ease. His body language changing on a dime to convey the passage of time to his audience. He was also able to comedically play the role of a few classmates who all seemed to struggle with their manners. Meanwhile, Patricia Cena Fuchel graced the stage playing the suave and posh Miss. Mannerly.

These characters walked you through a few memories of history, from the political term oil to the social changes of 1967. The narration from the perspective of an older and wiser man looking back fondly on his youth, and how this one manners teacher changed his views on the world around him. From an onslaught of almost vaudevillian style comedy to short and blunt statements, you were left laughing at the simplistic pleasure of perspective made available to you by time alone. This laughter was followed by a few moments of melancholy reality, reminding you that old habits die hard. In these moments, the storm outside almost seemed to act as a part of the show. A lightning crash or the soft pattering of the rain outside brought an aesthetic element to the scene before you. Even when the stage lights went out due to the storm outside, these two actors held their audience’s attention.

When the lights were able to be beckoned back, the audience found themselves yet again witnessing a child caught in a mystery surrounding his manners teacher. The lovely dated dialogue was met with a comedic and wonderfully modern interjection from our narrator. A few sides to the audience allowed them into the inner mind of the young Jeffrey Hatcher. I found myself pondering my own childhood on my way home. In what ways did the inner child within myself connect to the inner child of Jeffrey Hatcher? What teachers had I had the honor of being graced by, or what older traditions was I missing in looking back on younger years?

This show, directed by Carley Adams Lyon, gave a thorough perspective on a dying art from the youthful exuberance of a child. This cast and crew have done a splendid job of painting each scene. These vivid and colorful characters will give the audience members a hardy laugh and a classic night out at the theatre.

Remaining performances are August 19th to 21st. For tickets visit: https://us.patronbase.com/_LittleLakeTheatre/Performances/List?prod_id=54



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