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Theatre Revew (LA): Travels with My Aunt by Graham Greene, Adapted by Giles Havergal

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AS the fourth production of their 37th season, the Colony Theatre has chosen a rather intriguing piece of theatre, Travels With My Aunt adapted for the stage by Giles Havergal from an acclaimed book by Graham Greene. Greene is one of the most widely read and acclaimed authors in Britain in the 20th century. He wrote a number of short stories along with a handful of plays and screenplays (The Third Man) but is best known for writing more than 25 novels many of which have been adapted into films and television. In 1969 he wrote Travels with My Aunt, which remains one of his most popular works.

Travels with My Aunt is about mild-mannered clerk Henry Pauling, who leads a quiet life until he meets his Aunt Augusta at his mother’s funeral. She draws him into a series of wild international adventures involving secret agents, thieves, art smugglers, and some rather sordid love affairs in this underground world. The story takes us to South America, Brighton, the Orient Express, and Paris. The journey is wild and fantastical.

Playwright Havergal has added another layer of theatricality by writing the piece for only four actors playing more than 20 roles. The cast is first rate, with Thomas James O’Leary who had played the lead in Broadway’s Phantom of the Opera cast as the milquetoast nephew. Mark Capri makes a formidable Aunt Augusta. Sybil Walker is a scream as various and sundry characters. But it is Larry Cedar who steals the show with his menagerie of strange and fascinating characters. He makes a very fetching woman.

The production is imaginatively directed by David Dean Botrell who is also a screenwriter, filmmaker, and performer and playwright. He guides his cast effortlessly through all their transformation. At times the transformations come very fast and furiously and could become a bit tedious, but the talented cast and skillful direction kept it moving.

Travels With My Aunt plays at the Colony Theatre until Dec 18.

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