Four couples come to celebrate the 10th anniversary of their friends and find the husband has shot himself through his ear lobe, and the wife and servants are missing. That’s the basic plot of Neil Simon’s farce RUMORS. It’s Simon-lite,–very much like a sit-com and missing the underlying pathos that marks his best works. He gets his one liner gags in, but the strength and humor of the script is in the characters he has created and their relationships. The cast at Old Academy Players made the most of the challenge.
First to arrive on the scene are Chris and Ken Gorman . Jean Laustsen as Chris was every bit the ditsy, nervous woman, and Jim Golden as Ken played much of the play with a funny temporary deafness. Brenna McBride and Steve Negro as Claire and Lenny Ganz were next on the scene. Ms McBride was the perfect foil for much of the humor and Mr. Negro made the most of his second act scene with a long involved monologue that was spot on.
Then Cookie and Ernie Cusack (Norma Kidder and Joseph Carney) showed up. Ms. Kidder made us laugh just by trying to stand up with a bad back problem. Mr. Carney gave a well rounded performance as the soft spoken and solid psychiatrist. The last couple to arrive were Cassie and Glenn Cooper played by Rhonda Goldstein and Brian Smith. Ms Goldstein was every bit the jealous and over sexed wife of Mr. Smith’s philandering candidate for State Senator.
Rounding out the cast was Rocco Amato as Officer Welch in a delightful, scenery chewing turn. His every reaction to the goings on was perfection. The ensemble work was a delight to watch.
Director Barbara Pease Weber had the cast up to the tempo demanded by a farce as slender as this. The action was aptly frantic and funny. She had the characterizations right on. The two story set Larry Chapman designed looked good enough to live in. Lighting by Ms. Weber and sound by Randy Shupp fit the production admirably.
All in all, Old Academy Players can be proud of this, their 472nd production.
by Neil Simon
Directed by Barbara Pease Weber
June 10-26, 2011
Old Academy Players
3544 Indian Queen Ln
Philadelphia, PA 19129