July 24, 2008

“Huntresses” Has Sharp Claws and Biting Humor

By Alvin Reiner, The Press-Republican, Plattsburgh, N.Y.

Jul. 24--ELIZABETHTOWN -- A parade of prim and proper society matrons festooned in the finest 19th-century fashions leads the audience through the Adirondack Center Museum during "The Huntresses of Erudition: A Walking Comedy."

Based on "Xingu," a short story by Edith Wharton written in 1916, the performance begins in a room with exquisite displays of the latest in women's fashions from the last century and a half. There is also a fainting couch for those who wish to display their tender femininity and rather not be unceremoniously sprawled on the carpet.

The story of the Lunch Club, a group of women in pursuit of culture, is narrated by Lindsay Pontius, with delicate interpretive movements by Holly Steele illustrating the correct form of a proper lady.

As the pride of society parades through the museum, the audience joins in on the hunt. Actors and audience relocate downstairs in rooms displaying paintings from the Old Mill Art School under a title that mirrors the production: "Posing, Painting, and Partying."

A dashing and nattily dressed Devin Kapper, exuding airs of his own, is fortunately at more than arm's length from the claws of the huntresses as he embellishes the program with his narrative.

Amid polite chatter that oozes pseudo sophistication, the Lunch Club (Julia Loomis, Jenifer Kuba, April Bennett, Cathryn Clark and Jean Le Vien) awaits the arrival of author Osric Dane (Rosamond Lincoln) to show off their supposed scholarly prowess. To avoid the awkwardness of obvious ineptitude in literary acumen, the ladies feign knowledge they do not have of something called Xingu, their observations inadvertent double entendres that insult and puzzle their guest.

Each of the actresses plays her part to the utmost of stereotypical come-uppance, which along with the scrumptious costuming adds to the air of mock erudition.

Is Xingu a book, a religion, a custom? See the show to find out.

The Adirondack Center Museum is located on Court Street (Route 9) in Elizabethtown, one block south of the traffic signal. Performances of "Huntresses" continue at 11 a.m. Friday and 4 p.m. Sunday; also at 11 a.m. Friday, Aug. 1. Call 873-6466 for reservations. Due to the literate nature of the offering, the performance is suggested for those of high-school level and above.

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