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Nick Offerman brings 'Dunces' to life at Huntington Theatre

This stage adaptation of the cult classic is super funny. We promise.

Nick Offerman as belching bloviateIgnatius Reilly

T. Charles Erickson

“A Confederacy of Dunces” is a blisteringly funny novel with legions of fans who never believed it was possible to adapt John Kennedy Toole'squirky Pulitzer winnerfor the stage.

Butnaysayers behold --the Huntington Theatre Company’s latest is beyond your wildest expectations.

While playwright Jeffrey Hatcher’s script isn’t perfect, he manages to capture major plot points and the eccentric essence of these crazy characters in the underbelly of 1960s New Orleans.

Ignatius Reilly, the obese, arrogant mamma’s boy with a pyloric valve problem, is the unlikable vortex at the center of this maelstrom of lunacy. Yet for all his faults, you can’t help but root for him.

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The character is played to perfection by Nick Offerman of “Parks and Recreation” and "Fargo"fame. Offerman’s complete embodiment of the oaf’s physical traits, mannerisms and speech is greatly enhanced by the actor’s incredible comic timing.

It also helps that the production is perfectly cast. Local favorite Paul Melendy as bumbling Patrolman Mancuso finds enough humanity in these people to make you hope they all find what they’re looking for.

Director David Esbjornson staged this production with no props and very little set. It’s hard to say why, but to this fan it feels it’s homage to the author's brilliant descriptive language.

While it may not be perfect, this “Dunces” is as close as you can come to capturing the wild spirit of Ignatius Reilly and his band of misfits. Get tickets while you still can.

“A Confederacy of Dunces,"$25 - $155,through Dec. 20 at theHuntington Theatre, 264 Huntington Ave., Boston, huntingtontheatre.org

 
 
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