TRTC’s “The Fourposter”: a charming romp

By Barbara Dills

Sopris Sun Correspondent

If you didn’t catch the opening performances of “The Fourposter” at Thunder River Theater last weekend, you have four more chances to see this delightful play. Performances continue this Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday with shows at 7:30 p.m. each evening.

Written by Dutch born playwright, novelist and occasional social critic, Jan de Hartog, “The Fourposter” won Tony Awards for Best Play and Best Director (Jose Ferrer) in 1952 with actors Jessica Tandy and Hume Cronyn in lead roles. The two-character story spans 35 years of an up-and-down marriage — from 1890 to 1925 — but don’t be misled into thinking it’s just a period piece. Thunder River Theater remains true to the original script without making the story feel dated: for example, the consummation of the marriage on the couple’s wedding night is tenderly alluded to without cause for anyone in the audience to blush, yet the treatment keeps the scene relevant and believable. The message? Marriage hasn’t changed all that much in the past century. The single set is Agnes and Michael’s bedroom, lovely and timeless in its simple design, and director Mike Monroney, lighting/sound designer Brad Moore and stage manager Olivia Savard enhance it with clever adjustments to lighting and props that keep things interesting despite the set’s minimalist style. The bedroom, the bed, and especially the bedding almost become characters themselves by the end of the play.

But what really carries the play are the lively performances of Monroney (Michael), a TRTC veteran, and Nikki B. Montany (Agnes), for whom this is a TRTC debut. The actors make up for what could in places be dull dialog with their skillful, often playful, timing and just the right amount of emotion. They pull off jokes that might fall flat with less deft treatment (jokes that have done exactly that according to online reviews of previous contemporary runs in New York). Michael and Agnes are plagued by common relationship challenges, some that resolve onstage and some that don’t, all played out humorously in the arena of TRTC’s fourposter bed.

So if, despite the inevitable rush of holiday parties, you still have a free night on your schedule this weekend, put TRTC’s “The Fourposter” on your list. It offers a most pleasant break from eggnog and tree trimming.