Outrageous comedy is serious business in WTT’s ‘Unnecessary Farce’
So many theater companies trot out farces as part of their seasons, you’d think they are easy to do successfully. They are not. Even bad Tennessee Williams is still Tennessee Williams; what do you walk away with from a poor comedy with sketchy characters and nonsense plot, if not belly laughs?
What a relief, then, that WaterTower Theatre — which previously staged a kick-ass version of "Noises Off" (and an abortively chuckle-free "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum") — hits on all cylinders with Paul Slade Smith’s "Unnecessary Farce," a fast-moving and expertly crafted comic contraption.
The plot is surprisingly well-constructed, depending less on mistaken identity and patently unbelievable machinations than the usual rigmarole. Two small-town detectives (Mike Schraeder and Renee Krapff) are on a stakeout at a hotel, hoping to catch the mayor (Gordon Fox) admitting corruption to a city accountant (Cara Statham-Serber).
Romantic escapades, a loopy video camera, a conflicted body guard (Regan Adair) and a Scottish hitman (Sonny Franks) renowned for his "death by bagpipes" all work their way through the twists of simulated sex and slamming doors on the way to a happy ending (and the most entertaining curtain call in ages).
Things get off to a delightful start when a six-foot wall slowly folds down to reveal Clare Floyd DeVries’ door-slamming set, which makes full use of the tiered space at the Addison Theatre Centre. The director, James Paul Lemons, adds many wonderful physical flourishes, putting the talented cast through the paces.
Regan Adair once again proves himself an adept performer, who really knows how to commit to a bit. His milquetoast agent, looking vaguely like Borat with slicked-back hair and a porn-worthy moustache (complete with S&M codpiece), seems to be channeling the Cowardly Lion. Franks’ Celtic-heavy vocals are consistently hilarious. They, as well as Schraeder, Serber, Krapff, Fox and Ouida White, seem to get that good comedy is serious business. And "Unnecessary Farce" is grandly comedic. Seriously.
Addison Theatre Centre, 15650 Addison Road. Final weekend. Fridayâ€“Saturday at 8 p.m., Sunday matinee at 2 p.m. $25â€“$40. 972-450-6232.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 31, 2009.