The Court Theatre closes a particularly strong season with this buoyant production of Peter Shaffer’s 1988 comedy. “Lettice and Lovage” seems an unlikely commercial prospect. This story of a friendship between two middle-aged women, the flamboyant Lettice Douffet and the strait-laced Lotte Schoen, proceeds mostly by extended conversation. But Shaffer wisely lets the brilliant idiosyncrasies of his characters carry the play. While “Lettice and Lovage” explores much of the same thematic territory as Shaffer’s earlier “Equus” and “Amadeus”—the opposition of imagination and fact, the world’s indifference to genius—these themes stay mercifully in the background, ceding pride of place to the awe-inspiring endeavors of Lettice. Patricia Hodges’ monumental performance captures at once the ridiculousness and the grandeur of the tour guide unencumbered by slavish devotion to historical accuracy. Hodges seduces the audience just as Lettice draws in Lotte despite her lingering reservations. Linda Reiter is an apt foil as Lotte, visibly torn between the duties of her respectable office at the Preservation Trust and the repressed imagination that Lettice stirs within her. Lucy Smith Conroy’s vigorous direction plays the comic potential of Lettice and Lotte’s reenactments of historical executions to the hilt. This Platonic love story offers the expert entertainment of a Neil Simon comedy with a deeply humane heart visible underneath. (John Beer)
This production is now closed.