Slapstick, mugging, disproportionate behaving in this ‘Dog in a Manager’

“A lackey’s wit/turns a whole of Naples upside down,” a machiavellian menial named Tristan exults during one indicate in “The Dog in a Manger,” Lope de Vega’s 17th-century comedy about adore and rank. Tristan is ecstatic during his possess ingenuity, and because wouldn’t he be? After devising a socially rebellious repair for his boss’s regretful quandary, he’s about to beguile some dimwitted aristocrats out of a windfall.

If a impulse is tasty for Tristan, Louis E. Davis’s mural of him creates it gratifying for a audience, too. Davis’s Tristan, exuding laid-back cockiness and smarts, seems right during home in this brisk though disproportionate prolongation destined by Hannah Todd and Bridget Grace Sheaff for a classics-focused unit We Happy Few.

Not all a behaving in a uncover is as reliable, nonetheless a lead turns have their strengths: Raven Bonniwell is staid and imperious, if scantily modulated, as Diana, a arrogant countess who’s embarrassed to find herself in adore with her lower-born secretary. And ­Kiernan McGowan quietly channels that secretary, Teodoro, who’s prepared to dump his fiancee, Marcela (Natalie Cutcher), if a countess works adult a bravery to trade snobbishness for love.

Bonniwell’s and McGowan’s performances have a strong peculiarity that’s not a good compare for Davis’s loose naturalism or Cutcher’s gangly comedy. Indeed, in general, a directors have unsuccessful to sufficient determine a cast’s mixture of behaving modes, that embody some escapade and slapstick choices, not to discuss prevalent mugging by Tori Boutin as a lady-in-waiting and foppish count.

Ruthlessly whittled to a small 90 minutes, this permitted “Dog in a Manger” whizzes along on a theatre that’s unclothed solely for a few elementary scenic pieces suggesting Spanish Golden Age architecture. Moyenda Kulemeka’s yesteryear-evoking costumes are some-more exuberant, with glamorous gowns for Diana.

With Diana forming a tale’s highest-status character, “The Dog in a Manger” reflects on male-female energy dynamics, as good as amicable inequality. A apportionment of that earnest comes by here, notwithstanding a prevalent mood of spacious romp.

The Dog in a Manger by Lope de Vega, translated by David Johnston. Directed by Hannah Todd and Bridget Grace Sheaff; scenic design, Jimmy Stubbs; lighting, Jason Aufdem-Brinke; props, Sarah Kamins; sound, Robert Pike; quarrel director, Andrew Keller. With Debora Crabbe and Charlie Retzlaff. 90 minutes. Tickets $15. Through Dec. 2 during Capitol Hill Arts Workshop, 545 7th St. SE. Visit wehappyfewdc.com.

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