Monday, November 7, 2016

CT Theater Review: Unnecessary Farce -- Playhouse on Park

Susan Slotoroff as Billie Dwyer, Will Hardyman as Eric Sheridan, Julie Robles as Karen Brown, Mike Boland as Agent Frank. Photo: Meredith Atkinson
Unnecessary Farce
By Paul Slade Smith
Directed by Russell Treyz
Playhouse on Park through Nov. 20

By Lauren Yarger
What's It All About?
Well, there are eight doors, so this must be a farce if the title didn't already give it away.  Two inept police officers, Eric Sheridan (Will Hardyman) and Billie Dwyer (Susan Slotoroff) are sent on a stakeout to record a conversation in the next hotel room between an accountant, Karen Brown (Julie Robles) and the town's Mayor Meekly (Everett O'Neil), who is under suspicion for embezzlement. A few zany things happen to prevent the investigation, however: Eric and Karen have found a mutual attraction and their lust is captured on videotape. There's also Special Agent Frank (Mike Boland) who says he wants to protect the mayor, but who dives into the bed when he thinks she wants him and who might not be a good guy, the mayor's wife Mary (Ruth Neaveill) who might not be a good woman and a psychotic Scottish Mafia hit man named Todd (John-Patrick Driscoll) who holds most of the aforementioned people hostage throughout the play (when he isn't changing clothes or getting ht with a door).

What Are the Highlights?
There are some funny moments. Director Russell Treyz keeps the zaniness in check on the set (designed by Christopher Hoyt) which allows us to see the action in the adjoining  hotel rooms. When a cop is watching the monitor to see action taking place in the next room, we experience the action as well as the cop's reaction. He also puts a nice touch in the final
chase" scene that has folks turning in circles around the room and over the bed.

I enjoyed Hardyman's impersonation of bagpipes and Slotoroff's trek across the floor as she tries to free herself.

What Are the Lowlights?
This plot by West Hartford native Smith is just a bit too much to get on board with. These have to be some of the dumbest cops on the planet. There are several times when they could simply walk out of the room and go get backup -- or when they could take action to gain control over the situation -- but they don't (because there wouldn't be  zany farce then....). One of the cops uses the code word that is supposed to be used to bring his partner running, but it's just part of the dialogue and no one seems to notice.

"Oh, I don't remember this door being here before," one character offers as a lame excuse for why she would enter a stranger's hotel bathroom and secret herself there.... Much of the show isn't all that funny or doesn't make sense and it looks as though it is necessary for the actors to work way too hard to make this an Unnecessary Farce.

More Information:
Unnecessary Force plays through  Nov. 20 at Playhouse on Park, 244 Park Road, West Hartford. Performances are Tuesday through Thursday at 7:30 pm; Friday and Saturday at 8 pm; Sunday at 2 pm. Tickets are $30-$40 with senior and student discounts available. Special matinee price of $22.50 on Tuesday, Nov. 15: www.playhouseonpark.org; 860-523-5900 x10.

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Lauren Yarger with playwright Alfred Uhry at the Mark Twain House. Photo: Jacques Lamarre)

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