White lies. We all tell them. No, you say? Well, how about the time your girlfriend dyed her hair into rainbow colours and you thought it looked like a United Nations flag? Or the time your boss wore a god-awful tie and asked your opinion?
Mindless fibs are something we all use to grease the wheels of life. But our daily fictions are insignificant compared to Rumors, St. Albert Theatre Troupe’s latest production now playing at the Kinsmen Korral Hall.
In this over-the-top Neil Simon farce, four couples gather for the 10th anniversary party of New York Deputy Mayor Charlie Brock and his wife Myra. In this crazy comedy of errors, Charlie (an unseen character) has wounded his earlobe in a botched suicide attempt and then shot himself up with enough Valium to put a horse to sleep.
Not only is Charlie a bloody mess, but Myra has disappeared and the staff is gone.
The first couple to arrive at the posh suburban home is Ken and his wife Chris. Both are lawyers and they react to the situation by staging an absurd cover-up.
As the three other couples waltz through the door, it quickly becomes apparent that something is wrong. And that’s when one small fabrication explodes into a spider web of lies, each one getting progressively more outrageous.
Simon clearly designed this play to be a frothy, fast-paced farce in the tradition of 1930s door-slamming bedroom farces. But in this mindless fun, Simon’s writing is at times hackneyed and repetitive. He’s sausage-stuffed the script with jokes and one-liners that oddly enough lack the smart wit of The Odd Couple and Barefoot in the Park.
The script forces the actors to rev up the slapstick with a manic pushiness that is at times wearing. And it doesn’t help that in one running gag, actors must deliver dialogue increasingly louder. Unfortunately, it doesn’t make the joke funnier.
But it is the show’s actors busting their butts to portray these overeducated, over employed, over privileged snobs that keep the hilarity on track.
Veteran actor Trevor Lawless as Ken has one of the toughest roles as he morphs from composed lawyer to clueless screamer after going deaf from gunshot fire. It’s a role that could easily fall apart, but Lawless expertly stickhandles it at all times.
And Chris, played by the beautiful and exuberant Katie Elliott, is delightful as the stressed out, cigarette-craving addict who gets tipsier as the night wears on.
Paul Kane alumna Louise Large as the insecure, quartz crystal gazer contributes an element of sophistication blended with good old-fashioned cattiness.
And Darrell Portz, as the aspiring state senator, combines lovely touches of vanity, smarminess and fear of scandal into a role that makes you want to overhaul the political system.
Sheldan Ishaq as the soft-spoken psychiatrist Ernie Cusack is a superb counterpoint to all the screaming. And Amanda Niblett as his wife Cookie, a cooking show host, displays a real facility for physical comedy.
All eyes were on Amanda Blair as the gossip-mongering, super bitch Claire who skewers all her peers equally. She plays off really well to Kelly Aisenstat’s Lenny, Charlie’s sarcastic accountant who saves the day with a whopper of a lie.
In less capable comic hands, Rumors could have been a dud. But judging from the non-stop round of laughs, it was a hit with the audience.
Rumors runs April 27, May 2 to 4 and May 9 to 11.
St. Albert Theatre Troupe
April 27, May 2 to 4 and May 9 to 11
Kinsmen Korral Hall
47 Riel Drive
Tickets: $47.50 plus GST. Call 780-222-0102 or purchase online at stalbertheatre.com