FLAMING IDIOTS Opens at Town and Country

by Walter Bender

FARCE: Noun (Source: Wiktionary)

  1. A style of humor marked by broad improbabilities with little regard to regularity or method.
  2. A play featuring this style of humor.
  3. A situation abounding with ludicrous incidents
  4. A ridiculous or empty show

Dan Gold, Paul Frank, Terry Cunningham, and Don Dillon in a scene from Town and Country Players' FLAMING IDIOTS, running in Buckingham, PA through May 5.

Town and Country Players in Buckingham opened their 2012 season with FLAMING IDIOTS, a self-proclaimed farce by Tom Rooney. In FLAMING IDIOTS, two inexperienced new restauranteurs, Carl (Paul Frank) and Phil (Terry Fenningham), go to extreme lengths in order to entice people to come to their failing business. They hire hit man Louie (Tom McFarland) to come shoot someone at one of their dining tables, and arrange for a corpse to be delivered to be the “target”. Add to this a deaf cook (Sharon Cerauli), a clueless mounted policeman (Matthew Thompson), an aspiring actor/waiter (Don Dillon), a “Norwegian” busboy (Dan Gold), a food critic/reporter with a constant wardrobe malfunction (Stephanie Smith), and a “Weekend At Bernie’s” type of corpse (Greg Davis) and you have the ingredients for a very strange mixture.

The cast works very hard during this production, with much of the action taking place without time to take a breath. Frank and Fenningham as Carl and Phil have a good chemistry, and play off each other well. Thompson has a couple shining moments as the hungry (food and attention) cop. Dillon is over the top as the experienced waiter/nervous actor, and Gold has some fine deadpan moments as the busboy with a secret. Perhaps the finest performance from beginning to end was on display by Cerauli, whose deaf character portrays all of her feelings without a word. Smith shows great discipline moving about the stage, and McFarland got the most out of his character. Kudos to Davis for giving character to a corpse.

Director Keith Soester keeps the action moving along swiftly, keeping in line with the feel of the play. The set (design and constructed by Dave Sharper) is sparse and functional, allowing the actors to move about freely, with the requisite 5 doors to slam as needed. Lighting (designed by Scott Connard) was intended to highlight certain actors or items as needed, but didn’t quite hit the mark on opening night.

Farce is difficult to carry off well. I have to say the script didn’t help this cast…there were scenes that dragged on far too long, and some jokes that were not set up well at all. Adding to this, however, was a lack of timing on opening night. It seemed at times that things were not quite right. There were some obvious line issues, but there also seemed to be late entrances or missed cues. Perhaps this was a case of opening night jitters, and certainly repetition in front of an audience should tighten up some of the problems.

The cast and crew of FLAMING IDIOTS are obviously enjoying bringing this show to their audience, and the opening night audience showed their appreciation. It is a look at a form of theatre not seen often, and the enthusiasm of the cast is fun to watch.

Written by Tom Rooney
Directed by Keith Soester
April 20-May 5, 2012
Town and Country Players
4158 York Road
Buckingham, PA
(800) 838-3006

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