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“La Dispute Ultimately Sweet” – Austin American-Statesman

19 February 2007

‘LA DISPUTE’ ULTIMATELY SWEET

In a new translation of Pierre Marivaux’s “La Dispute,” the qualities of basic human nature are explored with all the subtlety of “Laguna Beach.”

A prince and lady dispute over which gender was the first to break lovers’ vows and cheat. Fortunately, two boys and two girls have been raised as if each were the only child on the planet. Now that they’ve been introduced, the audience can watch the innocence of Eden fade away.

In Capital T Theatre’s production, the framing device could easily be discarded. After a prolonged opening dance-cum-dumb show, Larry Hill and Annie Dragoo’s stilted take on the royal couple’s language made the short play drag on.

The antidote of speed and levity comes with the first couple, Egle and Azor, played by Laura Cheek and Chase Woolridge respectively. Cheek paints a portrait of woman in the state of nature that, while unflattering, is certainly funny. Both vain and endearing, Cheek’s breakdown to “All By Myself” is almost worth the price of admission.

And Woolridge manically returns the affections. Although the character has room for eloquent gallantry, Woolridge’s Azor is slack-jawed with love. The childish innocence works wonders when he meets Michael Fudge’s Mesrin. Instead of squabbling over the women, it’s joyous locker-room homoeroticism” at least at first.

Like young love, “La Dispute” is sometimes painfully childish, but ultimately sweet.

(“La Dispute” continues at 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturdays at Preas Theatre, Austin High School, 1715 W. Cesar Chavez St. $15-$25. capitalt.org.)

Joey Seiler