By skimming over the show’s depths and going straight for laughs, Reed also skims much of its resonance. Kovcic’s Yvan becomes a one-note sad sack, Haas’ Serge a dandified Everyman, Teti’s Marc its source of no-nonsense gravitas. This surface reading also emerges in Cathie Miglionico’s costume design, wherein Reza’s characters are reduced to easy visual signifiers: ascot vs. black turtleneck vs. rumpled rep tie; tailored linen vs. jeans vs. baggy corduroy. Even if you haven’t seen the production, you can probably figure out who’s wearing what.
And yet, whether you agree with this interpretation (which, by the way, receives no assist from Kovcic’s set, whose white partitions and white garage-workshop furniture looks cheap and flimsy, rather than sleek and modern), there’s no denying Teti, Haas, and Kovcic take their marching orders and run with them. Reed brings a distinctly American sensibility to this bourgeois French trio, and it’s kind of a happy coincidence that the Barnes Foundation, with its new accent on accessibility, held its opening on the same evening as Hedgerow’s.
After all, the Barnes’ helpful clustering of European artwork alongside hardware that echoes certain lines in the paintings, or its pairing of Renoir with the Pennsylvania Dutch, seems like a version of what Reed attempts here. The ascot, the underlying geniality, Yvan’s Emmett Kelly haplessness, they’re signposts for those who might be otherwise alienated from Reza’s talky, cerebral European import. Other productions might leave more to the imagination and offer less in the way of resolution, but Reed wants us to feel comfortable from the start. That’s either good or bad; it all depends on how you look at it.
Playing at: Hedgerow Theatre, 64 Rose Valley Rd., Media. Through June 17. Tickets: $10 to $32. Information: 610-565-4211or www.HedgerowTheatre.org.