It’s not only the sumptuous visuals and panoply of desperately amusing sidekicks and supporting characters that makes Lookingglass’ world premiere resemble a Disney production. It’s primarily the grim determination to find threads of moral uplift in the labyrinthine weave of Jan Potocki’s source novel. The first act of Christine Mary Dunford’s adaptation evokes a mood of mystery and eroticism quite successfully: apprentice soldier Alphonse von Worden (Lawrence E. Distasi) discovers the enigmatic inn of Venta Quemada and begins a hypnotic journey through layers of narrative. But, in its drive to tie up these myriad plots, the second act comes off as a series of thinly veiled lessons in ethics—Don’t be selfish! Accept your shortcomings!—concluding with Worden’s fairly ludicrous declaration of love for the Wandering Jew (Eva Barr). Lookingglass’ production is characteristically lavish; director Dunford employs the company’s trademark circus tricks sparingly to accent such highlights as Worden’s encounter with his demonic cousins (Louise Lamson and Angela Walsh) and his run-in with the Inquisition. And Raymond Fox turns in a delightful double performance as Worden’s father, a prissy duelist, and the goofball proto-scientist Valezquez. But “Manuscript” on the whole tells a story suited to oversexed, overgrown children. Maybe it’ll become an American classic. (John Beer)
This production is now closed.