Sometimes you just need a good laugh. If you're feeling down, you might want to take the N train to 30th Avenue in Astoria and spend some time at The Cottage, Sandy Rustin's very entertaining drawing-room comedy at the Astoria Performing Arts Center.
Helmed by Adam Dannheisser, an original cast member (and current resident director) of Broadway's Rock of Ages, this frothy farce is modeled on the innuendo-laden works of Noël Coward. As the play begins, Sylvia Van Kipness (Amy Rutberg) has decided to expose her love affair with brother-in-law Beau (Jason Loughlin) to both her husband, Clarke (Kevin Isola), and Beau's wife, Marjorie (Maria Couch). Naturally, complications ensue when we find out not only who's sleeping with whom but who actually loves whom. Throw in two other people, Beau's girlfriend, Dierdre (Hanley Smith), and her out-for-blood ex-husband, Richard (Daniel Bielinski), and this love quadrilateral becomes an even more serious love hexagon.
As in the comedies of Coward, love, in this case, is a game of chess. But Rustin, best known as coauthor of the musical comedy Rated P for Parenthood, infuses her characters with something rarely seen in Coward: humanity. The reason The Cottage is so enjoyable is that the figures on stage are recognizable humans, who end up wearing their hearts on their sleeves in a way rarely seen in Coward's works.
Director Dannheisser lets the play speak for itself and guides the pitch-perfect acting ensemble through alternately humorous and heartfelt performances. The physical production is also top-notch, with a jaw-dropping living-room set by Stephen K. Dobay, lovely period-specific costumes by Ryan J. Moller, and sunny lighting by Evan Roby.
Most important, The Cottage is funny. Genuinely funny. It is sure to put a smile on even the saddest person's face.