Ethan is kind of a nudge (or noodge, or nudzh, if you prefer). With a fevered brain fueled by lightning synapses, he bursts in upon Ron (droll, loveable Matthew Arkin) and Deborah (sharply etched by the equally droll Amy Aquino) to ask for their daughter’s hand in marriage. When they remind him that he broke up with Alice two years before, it is clear that Ethan is, to say the least, unusual. And so we are off to the races in Michael Mitnick’s romantic comedy, The Siegel.
As Ethan, Ben Feldman creates a character of quirks and intelligence that is at once both appealing and slightly repulsive in his desperate mania to reunite with Alice. Over the course of the eighty-minute play, Ethan is revealed as something more complex and more sympathetic then he first appears. Alice (Mamie Gummer, tall, slim, blonde, and vivacious) has taken up with tall, handsome Nelson (Dominique Worsley), a charismatic ball of energy sort of in the same ball park as Ethan, except he has the girl and Ethan is just coming up to bat. Also in the cast is a sympathetic, computer nerd named Jordan (Devon Sovari).
Fast paced and impeccably directed by Casey Stangl, The Siegel, rich with character and situation, has the circularity of classic comedy. It is utterly absorbing, hilariously entertaining, as touching as it needs to be, with a kick in the butt at the end. A smashing scenic design by Michael B. Raiford, consisting of a wall of high-rising, angular flats with doors that open automatically, allows for rapid scene changes on a doughnut turntable. Elizabeth Harper’s lighting compliments the set and transparently directs audience attention. Costumes by David Kay Mickelsen enhance character and action, and the sound design by Cricket Myers, which includes a delicious preshow playlist of some of the best Beatles tunes, keys into the show in amazing ways.
The Siegel is first class comedy, impeccably performed and handsomely mounted. It runs through April 23 at South Coast Rep’s Segerstrom Stage in Costa Mesa.