How can I describe Sabrina Fair? Is it accurate to refer to it as a comedic, American Downton Abbey? I admit, that is pretty reductionist of me, but it might give you a glimpse of what to expect.
Sabrina Fair, written by Samuel Taylor, (Vertigo, No Strings) is rich with literary and historical references. It’s a play written in the 1950s and filled with charming anachronisms, yet it remains relevant, as it delves into questions of love, marriage, class and compatibility –- questions that modern minds aren’t much closer to answering today.
Is love a game? Is it perhaps even the most exciting game ever devised? Should we choose a comfortable, safe route through life, or should we be true to an adventurous spirit?
The Driftwood Players close out their 59th season with this illuminating and amusing rendering of a young woman’s search for her place in the world and a companion to join her in it.
Director Rick Wright found the play compelling and auditioned to be chosen to direct. “Ordinarily, I gravitate to plays with smaller casts, but this play was just so smart,” he said. “It’s intellectual, but not in a scary, off-putting way. It’s not predictable or dumbed down in the way that so many rom-coms are today.
“I found it interesting that the two men represent two different paths –- safety or adventure, and that the two older women also represent these two possible directions in life. Sabrina has to make a choice.”
Rebecca Erickson was a terrific pick for the role of Sabrina. She filled the stage with the wonder and excitement of a woman prepared to conquer the world as she returns home from five years in Paris to the Larrabee Estate on Long Island, where her father serves as chauffeur.
You may remember Erickson from her recent appearance in Driftwood’s fall production of Dracula. I asked her what she found most challenging about the role. Laughing, she said “Honestly? The French! I don’t speak French!” Aside from that, she didn’t find the character of Sabrina to be a giant stretch. “She has a lot of qualities I like. I’m not a cynical person.”
Eastern seaboard upper crust idiom from the 1950s doesn’t just roll off the modern West Coast tongue, but Erickson handled it without a slip.
Also quite memorable is the successful, worldly character of Linus Larrabee, Jr. (adroitly played by Asa Sholdez). Linus is so successful, in fact, that he’s accused at one point of being “like Alexander the Great, he weeps for new worlds to conquer.”
Favorite lines for me include Linus Sr.’s (Martin J. MacKenzie) soliloquy on the indignity of driving one’s self to a funeral, and Julia’s (Kathleen Sasnett) lament that “they say that she travels the farthest that travels alone, but when you get there, you’ll discover that it wasn’t worth the trip!”
All in all, Sabrina Fair is charming. It’s full of pithy, insightful and just plain funny observations of the romantic predicaments in which we find ourselves.
Travel back 70 years or so with the Driftwood Players and enjoy a few laughs. You might be surprised at just how well this play stands the test of time.
Sabrina Fair, by Samuel Taylor, directed by Rick Wright is playing now through June 24 — Thursday through Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m.
— By James Spangler