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‘Unnecessary Farce’ serves up necessary laughs
Thursday, 05 October 2017 10:27
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WAYNESVILLE — With the threat of Hurricane Irma looming, the show “Unnecessary Farce” provided pre-storm relief via much-needed laughter during the Haywood Arts Regional Theatre show’s Sept. 9 performance.

The production, which filled about three-fourths of the 253 seats in HART’s Performing Arts Center, ran Aug. 25-Sept. 10. The show lasted about an hour and 45 minutes, along with a 15-minute intermission.

The comedy, written by Paul Slade Smith, was directed by Julie Kinter and was billed (under a “Do not distrurb please” sign) as: “Two cops. Three Crooks. Eight doors. Go.”

In a “From the Director” message in the show’s program, Kinter noted that, through the years, she has directed a number of plays — along the lines of “Unnecesary Farce” — that demonstrate mastery of the art of farcical comedy, “where situations are so exaggerated and improbable, one can’t help but laugh at such buffoonery.”

She added, “I’ve often heard the sophisticated theatergoer(s) snub their nose(s) at such vaudevillian pieces and, all I can say is, we can’t take life so serious(ly) all the time. Allow yourself the guilty pleasure of a laugh at the naughty and the silly!”

A Miami, Fla., production in 2015 was described by a Miami Herald reviewer as “about as substantial as cotton candy,” but, as with the Miami production, HART’s Kintner was able to squeeze every possible laugh out of an admittedly goofy plot by making excellent use of her strong seven-person cast.

That cast included officers Eric Sheridan (Chase Wells) and Billy Dwyer (Anna Denson), accountant Karen Brown (Sarah Lipham), Mayor Meekly (David Spivey), Agent Frank (Dan Dutterer), Todd (David Krarup) and Mary Meekly (Holly Cope).

The show is set in two adjoining economy hotel rooms — with eight doors — in an American town. Suffice it to say, there are a lot of door openings and closings, along with a few locked doors and door slams.

In Room 317, the mayor (Spivey), who is suspected of embezzling, is set to meet with his “hot” new female accountant (Lipham), who has uncovered millions in misplaced funds.

In Room 315 next door, two undercover cops (Wells and Denson) are supposed to record the meeting on videotape.

But there was some confusion as to who is in which room, who’s watching the video, who’s taken the money, who’s hired a hit man, and why the accountant keeps taking off her clothes.

Agent Frank Dutterer  serves as the mayor’s security assistant, Scottish hitman Todd (Krarup) Ballard) is the supposed cold-blooded killer, and the mayor’s wife Mary (Cope) is a woman not nearly as meek as she initially appears.

An especially amusing aspect of the show was Krarup’s Scott brogue, which was so thick that when he issue threats — even some of the fatal variety — the subjects of his threats would appear dumbfounded and ask him to repeat himself because they could not understand his accent.

At times, it became akin to a game of charades, as the characters guessed what he was saying. Finally, rookie policewoman  Billy Dwyer (Denson), who wore her uniform to an undercover sting operation and was armed with a squirt gun, was the one who was able to understand the Scotsman’s threats and translate them to the others, thereby building a surprising rapport with Todd.

The key romance was between veteran officer Eric Sheridan (Wells) and the accountant (Lipham), with the woman reversing the traditional gender roles and often hotly pursuing her willing man.

Also humorous was the mayor’s repeated appearances in Room 317 for the long-delayed meeting with the accountant, during which — every time — there were multiple characters ending up in the same bad in compromising positions.

HART remaining 2017 shows include “The Glass Managerie,” Sept. 22-Oct. 8; “Zombie Prom — The Musical;” Oct. 13-29; and “Parallel Lives,” Nov. 10-19.



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