A three-story, crumbling mansion that was once a notorious, London brothel and is said still to be haunted by its former mistress, “Scarlet Lucy,” is the setting of Alan Ayckbourn’s 1979 farce, Taking Steps. The house that is described as “drafty, leaky, and it smells” by its current mistress, Elizabeth Crabbe, is up for sale, becoming a major character and source of much hilarity due to the playwright’s decision to collapse its three floors into one level with characters supposedly on different floors roaming around each other on the flat stage before us.
Unseen by fellow house occupants but fully visible to us as the oft-howling audience, a person on one floor may unknowingly be standing between two quarreling others a floor above who are screaming about “something’s coming between us” while in another scene, a man looks to us to be sniffing the bent-over bottom of a woman who is actually a couple of floors above him. Such is only a fraction of the craziness of Ayckbourn’s Taking Steps, with the director of Pear Street’s current production – Troy Johnson – finding seemingly hundreds of ways to exploit and exaggerate the both real and illusionary misunderstandings, mix-ups, and mishaps that the playwright inserts into a play where not only the house but most of the human relationships within it are falling to pieces.
Please continue to my full review at Talkin’ Broadway: https://www.talkinbroadway.com/page/regional/sanjose/sj185.html
Rating: 3.5 E
Taking Steps continues through February 9, 2020 in production by Pear Theatre, 1110 LaAvenida, Mountain View. Tickets are available at www.thepear.org or by calling 650-254-1148.
Photo by Michael Kruse Craig