By Erin DeCaprio
alexandrianews.org Theater Review

Catherine Flye starring in George Don't Do That! at MetroStage through March 25. (Courtesy Photo)

How apt for George…Don’t Do That! The Music and Magic of Joyce Grenfell to open on the weekend that clocks are “springing ahead.” This heartwarming tribute to beloved British comedienne Joyce Grenfell is a burst of sunshine through the gloom of winter and a joyous welcome to the beauty of spring just around the corner.

MetroStage welcomes back the wonderfully talented Catherine Flye in this second entry of its Spring Solo Series, a celebration of works by women, about women, and starring women. Flye is well known and much admired throughout the Washington theatre community as an actor appearing in high-profile venues including The Kennedy Center, Arena Stage and Shakespeare Theatre, as well as founder of the lauded Interact Theatre Company. She is joined on stage by Michael Tolaydo, whose role as Narrator helps to keep the audience oriented in Grenfell’s timeline as Flye seamlessly floats from one distinct character to the next in Grenfell’s collection of endearing personas, a parade of ladies who vary in age, social class and self-awareness but who are consistently funny, relatable and real. Flye has been playing with these characters for the past 15 years, touring this show around Britain and beyond since 2003. The genuine affection she shows for her subject flows into the audience like a warm hug from your favorite auntie.

MetroStage uses the intimacy of its space to great affect, as always, with entrances through the house and a spare stage where sits the Narrator, the pianist (Music Director Joseph Walsh, for whom Michael Lodico substituted with quiet charisma and beautiful technique in Sunday’s matinee), a simple desk, and an assortment of hats and jackets that transform Grenfell’s character in real time. The staging is fluid and pacing is crisp enough to keep the audience engaged while giving respectful time to each song and monologue. Even those unfamiliar with Grenfell’s name will recognize the the kind of monologue that made Grenfell a comedic legend. They are rich and poignant scenes that rely on the solo actor to convey her own role as well as the actions and reactions of her invisible partners. It is an artistic challenge that Flye surpasses with remarkable agility and good humor an apparently effortless feat of a craft honed to near perfection.

George…Don’t Do That! runs until March 25 at MetroStage in Alexandria. Evening performances are Thursday through Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 7 p.m. Matinees are Saturday and Sunday at 3 p.m. For ticket information, visit MetroStage.org or call 703-548-9044.