Center Stage: ‘Unnecessary Farce’ receives great comedy review
Be warned, “Unnecessary Farce” currently playing at the Off Broadway Palm Theatre, reduces the audience to a helpless bunch of giggling belly laughers.
So what exactly is a farce, well according to Webster’s Dictionary: “is a light humorous play in which the plot depends on a skillfully exploited situation, rather than upon the development of character.”
The one thing I need to add is that in playwright Paul Slade Smith’s deft writing, Paul Bernier’s skilled direction and an absolutely, wonderfully, wacky cast of actors, we get a blissfully nonsensical comedy with equally hilariously well-developed characters. And folks, it doesn’t get better than that, when it comes to good, entertaining, theater. Bottom line, get ready to laugh your belly clear off.
The plot is simple two inept cops- Eric Sheridan (Victor Legarreta) and Billie Dwyer (Kelly Legarreta) are sent to entrap the town’s mayor- Mayor Meekly (Michael Weaver) who is suspected of embezzling from the public’s budget; along with the help of Karen Brown (Katie Pankow) an attention-grabbing, eye-catching female accountant; located in the identical rooms of the town’s motel.
Officer Sheridan and Officer Dwyer set up a sting, to get the dirt on the mayor as he meets with the town’s dishy, accountant Miss. Brown at the motel. The plan is flawless unless everything that can go wrong does go askew, which, of course, is exactly what happens.
Using all the”bits” that make up the perfect farce: 1- split second, 2 – perfectly timed door slamming, 3 – clothes flying off and about, 4- bag pipes bleating, 5 – misidentifications, 6 – guns drawn and 7- hand cuff mixups; clever plot antics are employed in an attempt to arrest this misguided, somewhat shady politician. Now, add a video camera in the “trap” room to capture the sting, the camera also serves as a delicious plot device. Blend into this merry mayhem, fearless, shy, Officer Sheridan has tongue tied, romantic designs on spice girl, accountant Karen Brown; include in this merry mix, the mayor’s bodyguard Agent Frank (Drew Stark) has his own dubious agenda. Toss in a fearsome Scottish enforcer Todd (Joel Stigliano) with a taste for bagpipes and kilts. Let’s not forget the mayor’s ditsy wife Mary Meekly (Donna Schulte) with her own surprising twist. Clever gimmicks going into the farce recipe spelling out “Unnecessary Farce.” Highbrow, classic drama it isn’t, but good farce comedy is one of the most difficult forms of theater there is either to direct or perform; and Bernier has done a brilliant job, with his split second comic timing, great staging bits and choosing the best comic actors for this high-spirited spoof.
As the sting team the Legarretas (yup, they are the perfect married, comedy couple) couldn’t be better. Victor with his deer in the headlights countenance, caught with his knickers in a knot, struggling to get his clothes on mesh perfectly with Kelly’s officer Billie, who shows unexpected backbone in spite of her phobias about guns and closets. Just watching Kelly’s comic facial expressions as she stops mid bite of a doughnut, to unexpectedly observe the next door bed rooms goings on, on the video camera. Or better yet, her fabulously funny interpretation of enforcer Todd’s Scottish brogue. Weaver steals many comic scenes as bumbling, Mayor Meekly. Pankow is funny and sexy, as the eye candy accountant. Drew Stark’s security man, Agent Frank is a hoot, with a heart of gold. Schulte the mayor’s wife, is hilarious with her own twisted agenda, which further complicates this farce. But it’s the amazing work by Joel Stigliano as Todd that gets the loudest laughs in this evening of thigh slappers. Stigliano is a master comic, using both his physical looks and notable verbal skills that reduces the audience to helpless gigglers holding their sides, with his spot on Scottish accent.
It is impossible to add much more about this laugh riot, so just get cracking and phone the Broadway Palm’s box office at (239) 278-4422, and see for yourself what a first rate comic farce is really all about, spending two hours laughing at the absurd antics of seven top drawer comic actors, expertly delivering the goods of Paul Slade Smith’s wildly funny play “Unnecessary Farce.” When you phone remind ’em Marsha sent you.