Monday, March 12, 2012

"Now Circa Then" ☼ ☼ ☼ BANG

Playright Carly Mensch is a story editor for the TV series "Weeds," so it is not surprising that her new play "Now Circa Then" would be funny, quirky and contain the kind of setup we can hear her pitching her boss on the elevator.

"Listen to this: a young woman from Michigan and a young guy from Brooklyn get jobs recreating a couple from the 1890s in a historical museum. Their own personalities adapt to the traits they imagine the historical couple would have had, and they fall in and out of love. There's lots of kissing. We contrast 1890 with 2012. Is that cool or what?"

"Did you say kissing? Let's do it."

"Now Circa Then" is a feel-good play that allows us to exit laughing and talk about it afterwards. Gideon, played by Matt R. Harrington, is a natural comic and we enjoy watching him come to grips with his fated-to-fail love for Margie (Kimiye Corwin). If Margie, whose spunk we like but who has issues the author never tells us anything about, had grown as much as Gideon, the show would hit us harder.

Andrew Boyce's set is first class, especially as the different rooms in the museum change to reflect how Margie and Gideon are carrying on their initial romance. 'Now Circa Then' appeals to us as it reminds us love is never easy, now or then.

The San Francisco Theater Blog Awards Division awards "Now Circa Then" Three Stars with a BANGLE of PRAISE. Both actors are particularly good as the characters they play while they are doing their show within a show. The BANGLE is for Margie's wonderful last line, in which the modern girl has come to understand the young girl of a hundred years earlier: "I was an incredible woman, I think...will be, I hope."

"Now Circa Then"
Lucie Stern Theatre
1305 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto
Through April 1

Photo credits: Tracy Martin

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