The Village Players of Hatboro take us laughing into summer with OUT OF ORDER, a rollicking Ray Cooney farce. Director Ron Green has assembled an expert cast that bursts onto the stage with a high energy that never gives out. That energy is necessary to sustain the two hours of physical, manic farce that explodes from the simple (?) wish of Junior Parliament Cabinet Minister Richard Willey (Bob DeMarco) to sneak away with another party member’s secretary, Jane (Alexis Newbauer) for a tryst at a London hotel while Mrs. Willey (Sara Nash) thinks he’s at a late-night session of Parliament. Playwright Cooney has positioned his characters in a send-up of the British sex scandals of the 1960s as they come and go through a virtual revolving door of hidden identities, confused motives, layered duplicity and outright insanity. It’s a wonder the actors can keep themselves straight!
When a strange intruder is discovered in the hotel room, Mr. Willey calls on his trustworthy aide, George (the excellent Anthony Cipollo) to help him cover things up; heaven forbid the world (and Mrs. Willey) should discover that he’s not at the Parliamentary debates where he said he would be. After all, Mrs. Thatcher’s government certainly can’t take another scandal! George is none too happy about this scheme. His mother doesn’t like him to be out late. But wait – every step they take drives them deeper into a web of hysterical confusion involving a stern hotel manager (Mike Duffin), an enterprising waiter (beautifully deadpanned by Clinton Cleaver), a maid who doesn’t speak English (Jacquelyn Green), Jane’s angry husband Ronnie (Michael Warner) and Nurse Rose (Christina Zick) who cares for George’s mother and comes to the hotel to find out exactly what he’s up to.
The center of all this frenetic activity is Zach Palmer, the intruder who has the fewest lines but the most insane activity. It’s not easy playing dead for two hours. Everyone here is hiding something from everyone else, and the activity gets more and more frenetic as the mountain of lies gets deeper. Forget “Dances with Wolves.” A dance with a dead body is a lot harder, and the showstopper of this program! All is resolved happily in the end in a fairy-tale farce manner and we go home refreshed after escaping into an evening of nonstop laughter and fun.
Director Green is to be commended for bringing extra dimensions of complex business to the bare bones of Cooney’s writing to step up the hilarity on the stage. The entire cast is to be lauded for the difficult task of affecting and consistently maintaining various types of British accents that add to the complexity of the action rather than the generic attempt at sounding something like Brits that is often put forth in shows like this. And hats off to the tech crew who manage a temperamental window sash that has a mind of its own (on cue) and sets up the whole farce to begin with!
OUT OF ORDER
by Ray Cooney
Directed by Ron Green
June 11 – 26, 2010
Village Players of Hatboro
401 Jefferson Street
Hatboro, PA 19040