Reviewed by George Basler
If you go to see Unnecessary Farce, which opened Friday (May 30) at the Chenango River Theatre in Greene, be sure to leave your brain in the parking lot.
And that’s not a criticism.
The production, which runs through June 22, is a diverting, often hilarious, farce that is crammed full of the standard elements of silliness, sexual innuendo and slamming doors.
There’s not a serious thought or message anywhere in sight, and thank God for that. You could say it’s an “ice cream sundae” sort of a play, heavy on the whipped cream and light on the nutritional value. And who doesn’t like an ice cream sundae at the start of a warm, summer season?
Bringing off a souffle of this type isn’t easy. Farce requires split-second timing, both verbally and physically. The performances must be over the top, but not gratingly so. The seven-member Chenango River cast is first rate in pulling this off.
Paul Slade Smith, who wrote Unnecessary Farce, has supplied every character with a moment in the spotlight, and the actors here are all up to the challenge. The skillful direction by Craig MacDonald keeps the action moving at a brisk pace, not giving the audience time to think.
The play is an American take on the classic British sex farce with its pratfalls and sexual horse play. It’s all clean, dirty fun.
The action takes place in two motel rooms somewhere in the U.S.A. where two inept police officers (Brendan Cullen and Katie LaMark) have set up a surveillance camera for the purpose of catching the supposedly corrupt Mayor Meekly (Ron Komora) in an embezzlement scheme as he meets with the town’s voluptuous new accountant (Haley Zale).
Obviously everything goes wrong in the most wacky way possible.
Also on the stage are a Scottish hit man (Chris Blisset), whose brogue becomes more and more indecipherable as he gets angry; an inept security agent with secrets of his own (Dan Mian), and Mayor Meekly’s wife (Andrea McCullough). who turns out to be less meek than first believed.
The entire cast is delightful, and the performers work together well as an ensemble. It’s a credit to their skill that they make the action look effortless.
At the end of the day a comedy either makes you laugh, which is good, or falls flat, which is bad. Unnecessary Farce makes you laugh at lot.
The Chenango River Theatre has scored a solid hit as it opens its season. Leave your decorum at the door, and go with the flow.
IF YOU GO: Unnecessary Farce performances are at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays through June 22. The Chenango River Theatre is located at 991 State Route 12 in Greene. Tickets are $20 Thursdays, $22 Fridays, $23 Saturdays and $21 Sundays. Call the box office at 656-8499 or go online to www.chenangorivertheatre.org.