‘Now Circa Then’: Yesterday becomes today

Kimiye Corwin and Matt R. Harrington play two historical re-enactors whose private lives become entwined in their characters’ lives in ‘Now Circa Then’ at TheatreWorks.

Two people meet under odd circumstances and in a situation where yesterday becomes today in a funny, bittersweet story developed by playwright Carly Mensch, best known for her contribution to the HBO series “Weeds.”
Gideon (Matt R. Harrington) and Margie (Kimiye Corwin) are historical re-enactors at a lower-east side tenement museum in New York. They meet when Margie, who is new in town, gets the part to re-enact a Jewish immigrant, Josephine, in the 1890s. Gideon, an old hand at re-enactment, takes the responsibility of her husband, Julian, seriously, while Margie just needs to make ends meet until something better comes along.
The parts overlap and the pair become romantic today, while playing the parts of a couple in an arranged marriage in yesterday. Confused? Don’t be. Mensch’s dialogue and scenario keeps it all clear and interesting, while Harrington and Corwin offer interesting, clever and well-delivered performances that keep the confusion to a minimum.
Director Meredith McDonough gently keeps yesterday and today lucid and coherent. He manages to make clear the intertwining of Julian and Josephine and Gideon and Margie’s different personalities and the views of their individual worlds.
The interesting set by designer Andrew Boyce is appealing and captures the essence of the here and now – and yesterday. Theatreworks always seems to meet the challenge of productions. Inventive sets with lighting by York Kennedy and sound by Christopher Graham bring in an eye-appealing presentation.
“Now Circa Then” keeps the audience alert and entertained with a different take on life. Well-written and acted, it can be cited as a gem in the Theatreworks crown.

Where: TheatreWorks, Lucy Stern Theatre, 1305 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto
Through: April 1
Details: (650) 903-1960 or www.theatreworks.org

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