Monday December 17 4:30 am

Spotlighting events along the south shore of Lake Michigan

Northlight Theatre's Production of "Mansfield Park" was a Disappointment!

MansfieldPark-vert.jpg

Fanny Price (Kayla Carter), a poor relation sent to live with her wealthy uncle and aunt, Sir Thomas Bertram (Mark Montgomery) and Lady Bertram (Kate Hamill), has a mantra of sorts. Whenever something happens to her – and she does deal with a lot of adversity – she says to herself, “I can learn.”

Upon her arrival at the estate, the other aunt, the arrogant and overbearing Mrs. Norris (Heidi Kettenring), strips off her ragged clothing – throwing them away lest they have bugs, at the same time mocking her accent, and explaining the rules for a poor relation. She will clearly be blamed for everything that goes wrong in the Bertram household.

She’s supposed to be a companion to her cousin, Mariah (Anu Bhatt), who makes fun of her. Sir Thomas ignores her while Lady Bertram relies on her to take her obnoxious lap dog for walks. Her cousin Tom (Curtis Edward Jackson) is too busy to be bothered, while his brother, Edmund (Gabriel Ruiz) is kind to her.

Carter and Ruiz have given their characters some depth and humanity, while everyone else is a parody, especially Mariah’s future husband, Mr. Rushworth, who is portrayed as a braying buffoon. Everyone in the cast except for Carter and Ruiz play multiple parts, which can be a bit disconcerting.

There were a few things which made me crazy. First of all, Lady Bertram’s lap dog, which is not a dog at all, but a muff. While she wears the muff, the dog, called Puddles, barks, growls and snarls at everyone. It was a relief when it finally disappeared in Act 2. Although Mr. Rushworth is not an intelligent man (as written by Austen), his only worth is not his money. I hated the complete idiot who brayed his way across the stage. Finally, I want to know why there were racks of costumes on stage at all times. It just didn’t make sense.

“Mansfield Park” runs through December 16th at Northlight Theatre, North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, 9501 Skokie Blvd., Skokie. Parking is free, valet parking is available. Running time is just under 2 hours with an intermission. Performances are Wednesdays at 1:00 and 7:30 pm; Thursdays at 7:30 pm; Fridays at 8:00 pm, Saturdays at 2:30 and 8:00 pm; Sundays at 2:30 and 7:00 pm. Tickets range from $30-$88. FYI (847) 673-6300 or www.northlight.org.