By Anna Chan
The University of Calgary Drama Department’s The Languid Lady; or The Mollusc, written by Hubert Henry Davies, is anything but languid.
Directed by U of C’s Barry Yzereef, The Languid Lady finds Tom Kepp visiting his sister, Mrs. Baxter, for the first time in four years. He discovers that she has mastered the art of being lazy so well that he accuses her of suffering from "molluscry" and is determined to cure her of it. He also finds that her husband, Mr. Baxter, and the fetching governess, Miss Roberts have only contributed to her condition by doing everything for her. Of course, Mrs. Baxter has become very skilled at conning others into performing tasks for her, which quickly begins to irritate Tom.
Mrs. Baxter, played by Whitney Huget-Penner, is most engaging. Her unwillingness to do any sort of work makes her exasperating, but the manner in which she convinces others to execute her tasks is both clever and comical. Huget-Penner’s laboured gestures are also humourous, making her character interesting to watch.
Michael Petersen’s portrayal of Mr. Baxter is also visually entertaining. Petersen has developed consistent habits that clearly illustrate Mr. Baxter’s reserved nature. His slight hunch, his inability to give Tom a friendly punch and the way he sips his wine constantly reveals his personality.
Initially, the elaborate and colourful set created a welcoming atmosphere, but pink lines against the green wall and the design painted on the floor both became distracting. The actors compete against the set for attention when the action on stage was minimal. The costumes, although timely, were distracting. Their dresses have more movement than the actors wearing them, again drawing the eye away from the action on stage.
Nonetheless, the play is filled with a great deal of entertainment and laughs. While Mrs. Baxter was as languid as the title suggests, the audience was given the exact opposite: An amusing story and a memorable performance.