Arthur of the Little Round Table

By Norman Weinstein
Directed by Tom Thornton
Gene Frankel Theatre
Equity showcase (closed)
Review by Jenny Sandman

"Your damn halo looks like a tourniquet choking your brain!"

Jeffrey, Arthur of the Little Round Table

Though plays about furniture almost promise to be boring, Norman Weinstein’s Arthur of the Little Round Table is particularly lackluster.

Arthur Honeycutt, a former insurance salesman, has quit his job to pursue his dream. He’s opened an antiques and consignment store specializing in Stickley furniture (part of early American modernism). Though he’s happy, he has to deal with snobby socialite collectors, seedy antique pickers, and smarmy dealers. Much to his wife’s chagrin, he teams up with the seedy picker to find the "Holy Grail" of Mission furniture, Gustav Stickley’s "mystery piece." The wife in turn wants to sell a very valuable lamp for a substantial profit, despite Arthur’s handshake deal to another client (which would bring in far less money). It’s an interesting look into the sometimes cutthroat world of antiques, but on a more basic level is about the conflict between Arthur’s dreams and the disappointing reality.

While it’s a nice enough story, it’s a little long, given the subject matter. At least Weinstein has an ear for dialog, and did his research into Stickleys and the world of antiques. To compound matters, the pace was slow. The set changes took much longer than they should have. Perhaps director Tom Thornton's job of directing was complicated by playing the lead role.

The production sagged, due largely to the exaggerated, pause-laden acting. It seemed the cast was trying to be farcical (with exaggerated reactions, doubletakes, sneaking in and out of curtains, etc.), but it’s not a farcical play. A calmer, more realistic acting style would have suited the play much better. The actors did show some promise, especially George Antonopoulos as Jeffrey Dillsworth, the obsequious antiques dealer. He seemed the most versatile of the bunch. Tom Thornton was a little over-the-top as Arthur Honeycutt, but he was likable and charismatic.

The set was simply decorated with lots of the requisite Mission furniture. While it was a little plain, it allowed the Stickley classics to take the spotlight. Unfortunately, the highlight of the play -- the furniture -- is the highlight of the play.

(Also featuring Dawn Jamieson, Scott Williams, Lara Anne Slife, Hanna Hayes, and Kevin Hardy.)

Box Score:

Writing: 1
Directing: 1
Acting: 1
Set: 1
Costumes: 1
Lighting/Sound: 1

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Copyright 2004 Jenny Sandman