by Clark Groome
When six musicians show up in Leipzig, Germany, to audition to be organist Johann Kuhnau’s replacement, all manner of madness ensues. The first thing you notice in the People’s Light and Theatre Company’s production (in Malvern) of Itamar Moses’ “Bach at Leipzig” is the curtain speech. You know the drill: turn off your cell phones; subscribe at the intermission; enjoy the play. Well, this curtain speech is delivered hilariously in both German and English.
Then we meet the six candidates for the job, three of whom are named Johann and three others named Georg. These six, and two others we don’t really get to know, are real life historical figures who did audition for the post at the famous Thomaskirche (St. Thomas’ Church).
Moses’ “Bach at Leipzig” is basically a verbal farce. Lots of smart and clever word play and lots of plot twists keep this fictional take on historical events moving along at a fine pace.
So does director Pete Prior’s appropriate production. His cast — Kevin Bergen, Jabari Brisport, Danny Gardner, David Ingram, Stephen Novelli and Greg Wood — is just about flawless. While all are very good, Bergen and Wood have the most to do and are absolutely splendid doing it.
The physical production features Roman Tatarowicz’ handsome set, Marla J. Jurglanis’ stunning costumes, Lily Fossner’s subtle lighting and Jorge Cousineau’s intricate sound.
It will come as no surprise and will spoil nothing to remind you that Johann Sebastian Bach, whom we never meet, got the gig. What will surprise you, and likely delight you, is how the others who wanted the job interact. Their smart dialogue and their discussions of religion and politics are both intelligent and amusing. “Bach in Leipzig,” which plays through Aug. 10, is an entertaining way to spend a summer evening.
For tickets to “Bach at Leipzig,” call 610-644-3500 or visit www.peopleslight.org.
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