Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Connecticut & the Berkshires

Unnecessary Farce
Playhouse on Park
Review by Zander Opper | Season Schedule

Also see Zander's recent review of Tenderly: The Rosemary Clooney Story


Susan Slotoroff and Will Hardyman
Photo by Meredith Atkinson
If you looking for a good time at the theatre, I doubt that you could do better than Unnecessary Farce, the rollicking comedy by Paul Slade Smith currently playing at Playhouse on Park. As expertly directed by Russell Treyz, it often plays like a house on fire, with the superb ensemble of seven actors in almost continuous motion throughout. And, while the plot gets a little thin late in the second act, the momentum built up during the show helps keep this comedy buoyant. Like any good farce, the play contains a multitude of doors for the characters to race through and to slam, and there are misunderstandings galore. The Playhouse on Park production is a real winner, with many laugh-out-loud moments.

Unnecessary Farce takes place in two adjoining rooms at a hotel, and Christopher Hoyt has done a wonderful job designing the set. Not to give too much of the plot away (because half the fun is finding out what will happen next), but the story concerns an accountant named Karen (the wonderful Julie Robles) who lures supposedly corrupt Mayor Meekly (played by the dandy Everett O'Neil) into one of the hotel rooms, which has been wired with a camera by the police, with the hopes that the mayor will confess to his crimes. In the adjoining room are two rookie cops, Eric (played by the riotous Will Hardyman) and Billie (the adorable and scene-stealing Susan Slotoroff). To put it mildly, not everything goes as planned, with some major complications along the way.

It is all very much to the delight of the audience that things go extremely wrong, and there are three other characters who figure in the plot. There is Agent Frank (the funny Mike Boland), who is assigned to protect the mayor; the mayor's wife Mary Meekly (the delightful Ruth Neaveill), who is not exactly who she seems to be; and, perhaps most hilariously, there is a Scottish hit man who wears a kilt and plays the bagpipes (the imposing John-Patrick Driscoll). The playwright has found seemingly endless couplings and scenes involving these seven characters, with laughter pretty constant throughout the show.

It cannot be underestimated what a great job director Russell Treyz has done staging this production. A farce can run dry if the momentum lapses, but Treyz keeps everything merrily spinning from beginning to end. What's more, the entire cast is extremely proficient at physical comedy and prat falls; just to see, for example, the deliciously humorous Susan Slotoroff trying to open a door while she is tied up and gagged is a showstopper in itself. As mentioned, the details of the plot can get a little too stretched out late in the play, but when you are having this much fun, it matters little.

Unnecessary Farce is another fine production at Playhouse on Park. It is truly a pleasure to see this ensemble of actors having such a crazy and hilarious time onstage. This farce by Paul Slade Smith was first staged in 2006 and has been presented in over 225 productions all over the world. It is easy to see why.

Unnecessary Farce continues performances at Playhouse on Park in West Hartford, CT through November 20, 2016. For tickets, please visit www.playhouseonpark.org or call the box office at 860-523-5900.


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