Mount Vernon United Methodist Church – Mountain
Sunday, July 21, 6:30 p.m.
Thursday, July 25, 6:45 p.m.
Sunday, July 28, 6:15 p.m.
They say: “This comedy follows the antics of two charmingly disobedient sons. It set a new record when it ran for 1,362 performances starting in 1875. However, this production has only five shows at Fringe, so be sure to get your tickets!”
Camila’s Take: Fringe festivals are famous for the weird, the wacky, the experimental, and the outright bizarre—all sorts of things that make you go “What?” in the night. So perhaps the most surprising thing about Our Boys is how unsurprising it is. This three-act Victorian comedy is precisely what you’d expect a Victorian comedy to be.
Period costumes, British accents, confessional asides, overt morals, realistic sets and sound cues: It’s all there! Audiences aren’t implicated or involved, and nothing is reworked or recontextualized or reinterpreted or chopped into pieces or set on fire or disrobed or set to a rock soundtrack or, you know, Fringe-ified. Instead, the Victorian Lyric Opera—taking a break from Gilbert and Sullivan to put on a music-free show—presents this rather conventional play in a totally conventional way.
Our Boys, a blockbuster in its own time, is an entertaining little farce about two sets of lovers mixing aristocracy and new money. It includes all the expected conflicts between willful young men, passionate young women, and stubborn, competitive fathers. Perhaps, to modern ears, it relies a little too heavily on jokes about people who don’t aspirate their H’s, but some clever lines about butter, livestock, and board games liven things up. (“Life’s too short for chess,” languid Talbot Champneys declares, in the play’s only famous line.)
In this production, the briskly-paced class comedy doesn’t exactly soar: A few scenes are stiff, and the accents are uneven. But the VLO was clearly aiming for a revival, not a reinvigoration, and they’ve succeeded. From the opening view of a pig portrait to the final reconciliation over an extremely loud bonnet, the play is quietly amusing. Playwright H.J. Byron ought to be smiling in his grave: His work lives on.
See it if: You’d like to add to your arsenal of Victorian insults.
Skip it if: You bought a Fringe button because you’re edgy! And your theater tastes are extreme!