Saturday, November 5, 2016

Review of "Unnecessary Farce"

Silliness abounds at Playhouse on Park in their amusing, diverting production, Unnecessary Farce.  A well-crafted farce requires a continuous cacophony of slamming doors and awkward and outrageous moments.  Playwright Paul Slade Smith has penned a show that ensures a steady stream of all three.

The plot centers on a simple sting operation overseen by two inept police officers.  The mayor, it seems, has embezzled $16 million dollars from the city.  An accountant, working with the police, plans to confront the politician in a hotel room while the whole meeting is being videotaped from the adjacent room.  Unfortunately, the best laid plans go amusingly astray as unforeseen entanglements intermingle with sexual hijinks, a hired assassin, and a few tittering plot twists.
Julie Robles as Karen Brown, Will Hardyman as Eric Sheridan, Mike Boland as Agent Frank.  Photo by Meredith Atkinson.

The author has created a show with lovable characters, likeable losers and screwball scenarios.  This is no great piece of writing, but it succeeds in its straightforward goal of giving an audience an appealing and amusing two hours of humorous entertainment.

The seven person cast has bought into the play’s daft structure, giving their all in the pursuit of a sustained laugh or an energetic chortle.  They include Will Hardyman, who gives a sweetly endearing performance as the bumbling, love forsaken undercover officer, Eric Sheridan.  Susan Slotoroff is appealing as the enthusiastic, but all thumbs partner, Billie Dwyer.  Julie Robles is gratifyingly delectable as the somewhat oversexed accountant, Karen Brown.  Everett O’Neil is affable in a loopy way as the good-natured Mayor Meekly.  Mike Boland’s portrayal of Frank, the Mayor’s lone security detail, is finely honed as he vacillates from a menacing swagger to a cowering pushover.  John-Patrick Driscoll pulls out all the stops and garners the most laughs as the over-the-top assassin, Todd.  Ruth Neaveill is delightful as the not-so-unassuming mayoral wife, Mary Meekly.
Will Hardyman as Eric Sheridan, Mike Boland as Agent Frank, Ruth Neaveill as Mary Meekly, John-Patrick Driscoll as Todd.  Photo my Meredith Atkinson.

Director Russell Treyz keeps the pacing brisk with a well-orchestrated group of actors.  Timing is essential in such a production and he has nimbly guided the cast to create a seamless and consistent swell of frivolity.  There is a healthy dose of physicality that he directs with aplomb and vitality.

Unnecessary Farce, lighthearted and fun, playing through November 20th.

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