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Paradise Hotel In this classic farce by the master of the genre, Georges Feydeau, co-authored by Maurice Desvallières, a successful engineer seeks to seduce the wife of his business partner, ending up in the low-rent Paradise Hotel. The lascivious engineer, Benoit Pinglet, is portrayed by Matt Severyn in a superb, dazzling performance, bursting with joie de vivre, wonderful body language, an endearing leer, and an inventive, quick-witted mind filled with schemes and deceits. The object of Pinglet's lust is Marcelle Paillardin, and Sarah Cortez is slender and beautiful, capturing a neglected woman anxious for affection but hesitant in betraying her matrimonial bonds. Pinglet's wife, Angelique, is a dominating woman, and as she's played by Shelby Blocker, we see why Pinglet is searching for romance. She towers over Pinglet, seemingly twice his size, and the casting gag works beautifully. Marcelle's husband, Henri Paillardin, is portrayed by Miguel Angel Garcia, and he is excellent, capturing the air of self-righteous propriety. The supporting cast is large and talented. Especially good is Jason Ronje as Matthieu, a visitor from Marseille who stutters when it rains, and Saurabh Pande as a bellboy has a deadpan look and comic timing that gets every laugh he's entitled to, with a few more thrown in. The script is closely plotted, paying off in an exciting, building climactic scene where things are wrapped up in a series of carefully wrought twists and surprises that astonish and delight. Thanks to brilliant direction by Gus Kaikkonen, there is a laugh every minute, unflagging energy, amusing and strongly drawn characterizations, and split-second timing, all working to perfection. This is must-see theater, and the word of mouth may spread like wildfire - get your tickets early, for the run is brief. Through March 3. Wortham Theatre, 133 Wortham, University of Houston, 713-743-2929. — JJT

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