Lace Common Denominator: Honeycutt and Mendenhall?s characters share desires, openwork fabrics.

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A period piece at Woolly Mammoth? Only kinda: D.C.’s least corseted contemporary theater may be stuffed to the rafters this season with lace cuffs and sky-high wigs, its stage patrolled by a Lady This and a Captain That, but it’s all in the service of a comedy whose author has tacked on the subtitle “A Restoration Romp.” Of course, if he’d gone ahead and finished the thought—“…With Dildos, and With Apologies to Everyone From Sheridan to Wilde”—there might have been less nervous laughter in the stalls. Unquestionably (if a touch effortfully) erudite, overtly vulgar, and played by Howard Shalwitz’s energetic cast with balls (and tits) firmly to the wall, David Grimm’s comedy is a blunt modernist gloss on the stylishly naughty genre that emerged in 17th-century England after King Charles II dispatched those tedious Puritans and relit the theaters they’d shuttered. Half the show’s laughs come from the decidedly modern interjections—“I ride homeward, nursing my blue-wrinkled balls,” gripes frustrated Sir Peter Lustforth—that pepper Grimm’s otherwise spot-on, verse-slinging homage to the period’s florid style. The other half come from a characteristically knotty plot, involving the married Sir Peter, the virtuous virgin he’s eyeing, the Gorgon wife he’s avoiding, the dashing military rakehell who’s pursuing the one woman and being pursued by the other, and the manservant who’s chasing the wife’s maid. (Who is, just to add another modern fillip to the standard complications, a boy whore disguised as a girl—and a refugee, it will transpire, from The Importance of Being Earnest. How, exactly, it wouldn’t do to say, but there’s a handbag involved.) All this makes for a longish evening, and it’s not always the best-unified one: The evening’s point, having to do with the redemptive qualities of love, will feel a little saccharine for at least a percentage of Woolly’s audience. And that dreadful matron, the butt of much foolery in Act 1, becomes a noble victim rather suddenly in Act 2; you’re meant to come ’round and root for her. The good news: Jennifer Mendenhall, as Lady Vanity Lustforth, negotiates that hairpin with her usual grace and authority, in a scene that she and Shalwitz infuse with palpably immediate hurt. More on the upside: Joel Reuben Ganz’s agreeably flustered manservant, shooting exasperated asides to the audience at every turn; Kimberly Gilbert’s dotty Miss Goode, equipped with the pert sashay of a gangster’s moll; Andrew Honeycutt’s Molly Tawdry, all coarse appetites and gentle longings tangled up in one appealingly conflicted package. And let’s not forget Kimberly Schraf, whose prim Dame Stickle goes voluptuously bad, as fiercely repressed spinsters are wont to do at subterranean orgies. Yup, there’s an orgy. In a cave. On Easter. It’s that kind of play—which means it’ll do the Woolly crowd just fine.