Tony Mastroianni Review Collection

Lakewood "Mouse" Amuses

Cleveland Press December 31, 1964

The Duchy of Grand Fenwick -- five miles long, three miles wide and a population of 6000 -- is in trouble .

There's a financial crisis and the country's only product, wine, can't be increased because there isn't room to, grow more grapes

The leader of the Dilutionist Party (Art Tupa) thinks that lacing the wine with water is the way out of the problem.

The anti-Dilutionist head (Cleve Dunn) thinks the United States would provide aid if the tiny country were threatened by subversionists. Therefore, he plans to create a phony subversion party.

THE RULER, Gloriana the Twelfth (Angela Kochera), eats pomegranates and reads Machiavelli for diversion. Her plan -- declare war on the United States, lose the war and be rehabilitated. It's what the U. S. always does.

Her cabinet agrees. The duchy will declare war (registered mail, return receipt requested) on Monday, be vanquished by Tuesday and rehabilitated by Friday.

Trouble is, the U. S. secretary of state thinks the declaration is a hoax dreamed up by the boy in the press room and ignores it.

THERE ARE MORE important things afoot, such as the creation of the Q-bomb -- more deadly than the H-bomb.

Its declaration ignored, Fenwick is forced to take the next step -- invasion. Needed is a loyal but stupid patriot to lead the expedition. Chosen is one Tully Bascom (Tom Slowey), Gloriana's ex-boy friend and a bird watcher.

Tully leads his small expeditionary force, armed with bows and arrows, into New York, lands while the city is deserted due to an air raid drill, captures a general, a scientist, a couple of WAC's and the Q-bomb.

ALL OF THIS HAPPENS during the first act of the two-act play.

"The Mouse that Roared" is a combination fantasy and satire. It is the sort of thing that can succeed as a novel with pages of description and the full force of imagination and as a movie with the tremendous scope of the camera at play.

But as a play there are hampering limits -- too much must happen off stage, acting must be letter-perfect.

There are moments when the Lakewood Little Theater company has managed to capture the fragile quality of fantasy. But there are other -- and frequent -- moments when this is handled as a broad farce.

CLEVE DUNN is right as Gloriana's chief adviser, conveying the feeling of a sincere muddlehead. Richard. Overmyer makes the role of the president seem better than it is.

As Gloriana, Angela Kochera plays the role straight rather than as the flighty woman who stumbles on the right answers. Tom Slowey's performance as Tully ranged from wide-eyed innocent (which seems right) to country oaf (which seems less right).

Tom Cain's simple sets are ingeniously maneuvered through the play's many scene changes.