|April Poland and Ryan Childers in Mr. Pim Passes By (Erik Stuhaug)|
Most people know A.A. Milne, if they know him, from his wondrous creations in Winnie the Pooh. But he wrote many more stories and even plays. One of his theatrical creations is currently on stage at Taproot Theatre. Mr. Pim Passes By is what is termed a “drawing-room comedy,” taking place entirely in one room of a turn of the century house, and often focusing on manners of the time.
This gentle comedy has a lovely cast with just the right style of arch delivery, mostly from leading lady, April Poland. Poland plays Olivia Marden, fairly recent wife of the middle aged master of the manor, George Marden (Ryan Childers), a man set in his ways, but crazy about his new wife. Olivia never goes about stamping her foot and confronting her man. She seemingly meekly accepts his edicts (“No, you can’t put up patterned curtains in my established old home”), yet continues sewing curtains confident in finding a way to bend him around her finger and get her way.
Mr. Carraway Pim (Chris Ensweiler) is actually a mild-mannered occasional popper inner, who is mostly a device to deliver partial bits of information that stir the household into a tizzy. His remembering more bits of information and popping back in to deliver them creates continuing moments of changing tizzy. It’s enjoyable fun, though it doesn’t stack up to anything more meaningful. Drawing-room comedies general don’t.
The main pleasure is in watching the actors have fun with their characters, which they all do. A darling performance of note is the youngest character, a ward of Marden, Dinah (Allie Pratt) who folds Mr. Pim into the family and tells him all sorts of secrets in a charmingly offhand way. She is matched in her charm by Daniel Stoltenberg as her almost fiancée, Brian Strange, who, as a painter, does not earn enough for Marden to take him seriously as a suitor. Olivia must find a way to convince her husband that Brian will manage and he should let the match take place.
A fun cameo role of “Aunt” Lady Marden has Kim Morris sweep in and wave her hands about and strut out, and Ginny Hollady maintains social prestige as the maid. They are all veddy British, of course, and lovely costuming (as always) is reflected of the period by Sarah Burch Gordon.
Director Karen Lund is a past master at this type of play, with Taproot liking to produce so many of these lovely, light productions. And set and sound designer Mark Lund has done so many plays here that he probably has every measurement ingrained in his brain. They’ve got it down!
If an entrancing evening is desired and the most taxing thing you want to think about is to wonder whether Olivia really will solve everyone’s problems, this is definitely the play for you. Suitable for all ages. For more information, go to www.taproottheatre.org or call 206-781-9707.