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Local talent emerges at MFA, ICA; Joe Jackson on the Common; 'Wolf'; Frothy farce at Williamstown

''Tale of the Wolf,'' the opening play of the Williamstown Theatre Festival's 30th season, rings of niceness. That's good - and bad. This turn-of-the-century Hungarian farce by Ferenc Molnar about a jealous husband, his beautiful wife, and her old beau is as light and frothy as you'd like summer theater to be. It's a warm-hearted play that neatly ties up its loose ends; the sets and costumes are sumptuous; and live music tinkles pleasingly in the wing.

But there is a thrown-together feeling about the production. For a company that spent three years obtaining the play, it hasn't really committed itself to it. Artistic director Nikos Psacharopoulos has directed it as a comedy with farce flavoring. Characters move around normally, but then abruptly exit in arabesques. Jarring American accents and expressions poke their heads into the dialogue.

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Blythe Danner, as the wife, does better when she's being maternal and tolerant of her husband than in a wild dream sequence. Edward Herrmann, who plays the jealous husband, makes a nicely anemic, sticklike foil for the ex-beau , deftly played by the darkly handsome Jean le Clerc.

But one senses that the actors have recently removed corsets and are rather giddy with freedom. In the end, this production disappoints with its lukewarm commitment and lack of discipline. Ends Saturday.

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