The Heir Apparent Brims With Linguistic Panache and Stellar Performances


“I’m a one-man Comédie-Française,” boasts the scheming servant Crispin, comparing his acting skills to France’s national theater. Crispin (Carson Elrod) isn’t totally exaggerating: In the course of The Heir Apparent, this roguish but good-natured valet impersonates everyone from a pig farmer to his miserly master. His command performances in disguise help out his pal, the young gentleman Eraste (Dave Quay), who stands to inherit a fortune and marry his beautiful fiancée — if only his repulsive geezer uncle (Paxton Whitehead) would finally kick off. So the antic conspirators plot to get a will signed and make it happen.

David Ives’s latest comic jewel is based on a traditional 18th-century play by Jean-François Regnard; the narrative follows in the vein of Molière, with elements of commedia and farce. Ives supplies the linguistic panache, which brims with contemporary wit and allusions that would make the old masters proud. The production, directed with exactness by John Rando, is a delight with twin pleasures: the razor-sharp wit of Ives’s flowing verse and the cast’s gusto. All of them nail it and seem to be having a ball. Who needs the grandeur of the Comédie-Française when the soul of French comedy translates so nicely to a more intimate spot on 13th Street?