Beau Jest

The Little London Dinner Theater in Pleasant Grove has chosen the farcical romantic comedy “Beau Jest” as its second production, and it seems to have been a good choice.

This play begins with the conflict already in full bloom, and spends the rest of the time working out the climax and resolution. No time is wasted on exposition; we learn that as we go.

It seems single Jewish gal Sarah Goldman (Katie Purdie) has told her parents that her boyfriend, Chris Cringle (Jason Purdie, her real-life husband and the show’s director), is Jewish, even though he’s not. So when they want to meet him, she calls an escort service and has them send over any Jewish guy they’ve got to play her “boyfriend.”

They send Bob Schroeder (Jon Liddiard), who, despite the name, is not Jewish. Sarah is horrified — her parents and brother are due any minute. Not to worry, says Bob: He’s an actor, and he was in “Fiddler on the Roof” once. He can play the part.

And so now Sarah has this Jewish boyfriend who is actually neither Jewish nor her boyfriend, but whom she begins to fall in love with, due to their frequently having to put on the charade for her family.

It’s kind of fun to be tossed into a play where the action has already started: The show begins with Bob’s arrival at Sarah’s apartment; five minutes later, he’s playing the part for her parents (Agnes Broberg and Dennis Purdie) and brother (Brett Merritt). No time is wasted here!

Liddiard is the most noticeable character, as the actor/escort/fake boyfriend Bob. He is wound up all the time — perhaps too much of the time — frantically, loudly trying to fit in and endear himself to the family. Every line is big with him, with no subtlety, and every movement he makes is fast and broad. Though he does calm down near the end, as things with him and Sarah begin to get serious, some different levels throughout would be nice.

That said, I have to say that I like Liddiard, and liked him in the last thing I saw him in, too (“Saving Grace,” in Springville). He has a great deal of raw talent. With some good direction, his energy and wit could be channeled into something brilliant.

Broberg and Dennis Purdie are great as Sarah’s mega-Jewish parents, managing to get the impersonations across without parodying the culture. In fact, the second-act Seder seems fairly authentic and respectful, and is even fascinating to watch. It seems to be a realistic depiction of the way a typical Jewish family would do things.

It’s a charming, fun play with a little bit of a message, but not too heavy-handed. Perfect fare, indeed, after enjoying a nice meal (non-kosher) at the Little London Dinner Theater.

This was my first excursion to the Little London Dinner Theater, and I was impressed. The show was pretty solid, and the food was good, too.

When I saw that Jon Liddiard was in this show, I considered asking him to come audition for the Garrens Comedy Troupe, which I was just then taking over as director. But I didn't get the chance, and I forgot all about it. Then, lo and behold, he showed up at auditions on his own! The gods of comedy must have been smiling upon us. He was cast in the troupe, and he proved to be an excellent addition.