UNNECESSARY FARCE by Paul Slade Smith is a new American comedy that’s extremely silly and very, very funny. I won’t even attempt to explain the plot; it has more twists than a pretzel. Suffice it to say that it features a cheerfully goofy embezzling mayor, his supposedly ditzy wife, a sexy female accountant, two incompetent undercover cops, the mayor’s bumbling security chief and, to top it all off, a Scottish hit man.
John Devlin has designed a very good and sturdy set of adjoining motel rooms in colorful shades of yellow, cream and orange including fun paintings of lifesavers. Of course there are the obligatory doors all ready for slamming – eight in all including two connecting the rooms.
Lauren Glover’s lighting is just fine. I really like the clever opening sequence spotlighting the doors, enhanced by Joel Abbott’s sound. The costumes by Allison M. Steadman are also very good, especially the Superman boxer shorts and the full Scottish regalia with its almost painfully colorful socks.
The play is well-cast with good actors who all have a good sense of comedy and terrific timing. Bill Carmichael makes a good Mayor Meekly and Sarah Carleton is good as his wife, Mary. They both make the most of their respective character twists. Agent Frank is well-played by Craig Wells and his description of the Highland Hit Man is a hoot.
As Billie, the cop wannabe, Amanda Ryan Paige is very funny, especially in her Act II acrobatics while tied up. Christian Kohn is a knock-out as Todd, the Highland Hit Man. His Scots dialect is very good and a riot when it gets out of control.
Abby Lee does a fine job as Karen, the accountant. Her early scene with Eric gets the play off to a rousing (and I use that word advisedly) start. Turner Crumbley plays the bumbling cop Eric to perfection. He actually manages to make the character believable, even his attempt to be a Brooklyn tough guy. His struggle with the phone while dressing is hilarious.
The true star of this production is Director Gregory Ramos. His staging is wonderful, from all the door-slam knockouts to the various bed scrambles. Having Karen whip off her glasses and use a baby-doll voice is inspired. I especially love the Act II gun quartet. All this requires incredible energy and perfect timing on the part of the excellent cast.
The publicity release for the play claims it “. . . takes off like a rocket, with comic mayhem from beginning to end,” and every word of the claim is true. In other words, UNNECESSARY FARCE is great fun. If you want to laugh and simply enjoy yourself, this is for you.
On a scale of one to five the St. Michael’s Playhouse production of UNNECESSARY FARCE gets five covered bridges. For North Country Public Radio I’m Connie Meng.