`Dandy Dick': Victorian comedy

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Dandy Dick Farce by Arthur Wing Pinero. Directed by Jimmy Bohr. What the Roundabout Theatre Company is calling the 100th anniversary production of Sir Arthur Wing Pinero's ``Dandy Dick'' is not a particularly happy tribute to that eminent Victorian. Director Jimmy Bohr seems to believe that louder is funnier, with the result that some of the dialogues end up as shouting matches. Such stalwart players as Gordon Chater, Jan Miner, and Denis Holmes endeavor with their performances to temper the general air of excess. But they must constantly contend with Mr. Bohr's stridencies.

``Dandy Dick'' concerns the very extensive comic woes of the Very Rev. Augustin Jedd, DD (Mr. Chater), the Dean of St. Marvells in rural England. Jedd offers a home to his widowed sister, Georgiana Tidman (Miss Miner), a sporty type who owns a half-share of Dandy Dick, the racehorse of the title. The clergyman's troubles are not eased by the presence of his old Oxford chum, Sir Tristram Mardon (Mr. Holmes).

Within 24 hours, Jedd has spent a night in jail for a crime he didn't commit, violated his principles by wagering, lost his money on a loser, and been otherwise buffeted by fate and fortune. A cast more trusting in Pinero's flair for furious farcical invention might have given the sturdy old contraption its due. That is not the case at the Roundabout.

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The cast includes Kathryn Meisle and Monique Fowler as the dean's archly affected and extravagant daughters and the pair of mock heroic hussars (John C. Vennema and Edward Hibbert) bent on spiriting the girls off to a masquerade ball. Costume designer Andrew B. Marlay rises to the fancy-dress demands of the frolic. Daniel Proett's settings shift back and forth between the flower-decked deanery and the local ``strong box'' in which Jedd is briefly jugged. John Hastings's lighting includes nocturnal thunderstorm effects. ``Dandy Dick'' is scheduled to run until July 3.

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