Sure, it was jarring to go for breakfast the morning after seeing The Illusion, only to overhear the mute servant—or, at least, the actor who played the part—order a "triple latte, no foam." Yet maybe this run-in makes perfect sense: The play Tony Kushner adapted into The Illusion was a comedy by Pierre Corneille that anticipated meta-theater by 300 years (and the expression "mind-fuck" by another 50). And once you break the fourth wall, there's no going back. Breakfast be damned.
But at the CoHo, even a rumination on artifice needs artifice. The Illusion's plot centers upon Pridamant (the powerful Galen B. Schrick), a lawyer in search of his son. A cave-dwelling magician named Alcandre (Lisamarie Harrison) conjures three visions to show the son's demise—and a wickedly spirited job she does, too.
Though tirelessly winsome, the Public Playhouse's production is also fairly conservative. For this ensemble cast, that's probably the right call; there's something in the hammy pelvic thrusts and air quotes that suggests this material is too advanced for at least two actors here. But by playing The Illusion in fits and starts as farce, they've shrunk Kushner's ambition to their scale. Pity the fool? No, pity Corneille.