A Fractured Forest Frolic in Douglas Carter Beane's 'Fairycakes'

by Matthew Wexler

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Thursday November 4, 2021

(l to r) Kristolyn Lloyd, Z Infante, Julie Halston, Ann Harada and Jackie Hoffman.
(l to r) Kristolyn Lloyd, Z Infante, Julie Halston, Ann Harada and Jackie Hoffman.   (Source:Matthew Murphy)

Does a joke land in the forest if nobody laughs? Such is the question you might ask yourself after Douglas Carter Beane's rhyming couplet theatrical endeavor, "Fairycakes," now playing at the Greenwich House Theater, scheduled to close early on November 21.

After more than a year and a half of being theater-starved, Beane's well-intentioned mash-up of Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and a slew of fairytales from "Peter Pan" to "Pinocchio" feels like the leftover crumbs from Little Red Riding Hood's basket (who, fortunately, does not make an appearance).

The interwoven plot lines, driven by the sweeping theme of love and Cupid's stray arrow, are unnecessarily convoluted as the all-star cast attempts to untangle themselves from Beane's briar. Even some of Broadway's funniest like Julie Halston, Ann Harada, and Jackie Hoffman can't seem to lift the humor off the page.

Mo Rocca as Geppetto
Mo Rocca as Geppetto  (Source: Matthew Murphy)

Beane, known for his sharp-tongued writing in "The Little Dog Laughed," "As Bees in Honey Drown" and "The Nance," finds himself in a wordsmith's fox trap with the forced rhymes (save a brief reprieve when the ensemble falls under a spell and gratefully speaks in prose for a bit). The 12-member cast, crammed onto the theater's too-small stage, seem to get in each other's way at every turn, occasionally getting caught up on Shoko Kambara and Adam Crinson's scenic design or bumping their fairy wings into one another. Even Mo Rocca as Geppetto, chasing down a tap-dancing Pinocchio, can't seem to find his rhythm in Beane's script.

Despite the clumsiness, Gregory Gale's whimsical costumes are the star of the show, delivering a wink and a nod to countless productions of "Midsummer" seen on summer stages around the world.

Not all is lost in the forest, though. Casting directors Adam Caldwell and Destiny Lilly have assembled a multicultural cast that transcends gender, sexual orientation, race, and age, its collective beauty reflecting to the audience what we're all hoping to see more of these days on stage and screen. Though Cupid's arrow misses the mark here, it's headed in the right direction.

"Fairycakes"
Greenwich House Theater
27 Barrow Street, NYC
Through November 21

Matthew Wexler is EDGE's Senior Editor, Features & Branded Content. More of his writing can be found at www.wexlerwrites.com. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @wexlerwrites.