Downtown Art

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June 6, 2005 // UPDATED 1:55 pm - April 26, 2007
By: Anna Pratt
Anna Pratt

'Lettice and Lovage'

My dramatic friend Christopher has made embellishing the truth into as much of a hobby as embroidery is. He's been known to fabricate stories to unsuspecting clerks in gas stations and convenience stores, among perpetrating other white lies. For example, in an heroic attempt to rationalize the purchase of one too many pints of ice cream at a gas station (he felt guilty), he baldly confessed to the cashier, "My wife is pregnant."

Incidentally, Christopher isn't married. He's also been known to discuss the differences between Seattle and Minneapolis' mass transit systems, even though he's never even been to Seattle.

In the end, I believe that Christopher gets some private glee from concocting a believable myth for an innocent audience. For him, adlibbing the truth is kind of a creative outlet or a means to bleach out the commonplace from otherwise boring anecdotes.

It's kind of like that in the play "Lettice and Lovage" for character Lettice Douffett, an eccentric Englishwoman who improvises historical realities not because she's trying to make a profit from a scam, it's just that her versions of past events are much more romantic. With expertise on medieval cuisine and weaponry to add to otherwise lackluster facts, anyone who takes one of her guided tours of the old Fustian House leaves feeling much more like they'd gone to see an exciting movie.

While that may entertain guests, bending the truth isn't OK for Preservation Trust official Charlotte (nicknamed Lotte) Schoen. So Lotte fires Lettice for her improvisations.

But that's not how things end. After she hears more of Lettice's elaborate falsehoods, Lotte, who's also a history buff, finds herself a fan.

- W-Su June 10-July 31; W-Sa 8 p.m., Su 7 p.m. (plus Sa July 23, 2 p.m.)Theatre de la Jeune Lune, 105 N. 1st St. $20-$30. 333-6200, www.jeunelune.com.

'Wild Oats'

I'm kind of a sucker for tales about the Wild West, decorated with prickly cactus and drawling accents. I never seem to tire of the exotic and romantic cowboy-fugitive dynamic. Naturally, I think that the idea of adapting an 18th century farce from Irish author John O'Keefe to James McClure's version, called "Wild Oats", that takes place in the American Wild West is a seamless transition.

In this play, two brawny young men want to reform an untamed community in the Wild West. Kind of like cultural vigilantes, they're committed to gentrifying those who spend all of their spare time and cents in the saloon with bar girls and bar brawls (did none of them have moms?). These Westerners are a little, um, rough around the edges.

While the visiting duo's intentions might be charitable, this show is riddled with complications such as mistaken identities, misguided romances and character flaws that resemble those of Shakespeare's roles.

- M-Su June 6-26; F-Sa 8 p.m., Su 2 p.m. & 7 p.m. Theatre in the Round, 245 Cedar Ave. $20. 333-3010, www.theatreintheround.org.