Arlington Players Out of OrderBy Bob Ashby • Feb 3rd, 2013 • Category: Reviews
Arlington Players: (Info) (Web)
Thomas Jefferson Theater, Arlington, VA
Through February 16th
2:00 with one intermission
$20/$15 Senior, Junior
Reviewed February 1st, 2013
The real star, literally the center of attention, in The Arlington Players (TAP) production of the Ray Cooney farce Out of Order, is the window. Besides being the most important entrance on J. Andrew Simmons’s posh hotel suite set, the upstage center window regularly falls on cue, frequently startling the characters and, more importantly, bonking them from time to time, rendering them unconscious or at least giddy. Kudos to director Malcolm Edwards for allowing window operator George Sinks a brief bow at the end of the show.
The other really noteworthy performance is by Mike Holland as “the body” in Act 1. Found at outset of the play trapped by the window, apparently dead, Holland does a marvelous physical acting turn as he falls, sits, slumps, gets maneuvered by other characters, or slowly topples over. Playing a convincing, let alone funny, dead weight isn’t easy, but Holland is worth watching every unconscious moment.
One of the invariable rules of farce of the Ray Cooney sort is that while the plot is set in motion by one or more characters wanting to have illicit sex and conniving mightily to arrange one or more trysts, nobody ever actually succeeds in getting the planned nookie. The women of Out of Order – Kat Sanchez as Jane, Sue Edwards as Pamela, and Jillian Bonahoom as Gladys – enthusiastically, sometimes precipitously, seek a rendezvous with someone to whom they are not married. Plot machinations always intervene, however, and for all the innuendo, raciness never proceeds beyond the level of a fairly decorous nightie. All three play their characters as the perfectly good British sports they are, and of course all ends properly for them.
Junior Minister Richard Willey (Joshua Dickson) starts the wheels turning by planning a naughty evening in the hotel with Jane, interrupted by the appearance of the body. He calls upon his aide, George Pidgen (John Allnut), to help him sort out the mess, which of course becomes even more convoluted as the evening wears on. Dickson and Allnut have excellent chemistry as the scheming M.P. and his flustered aide, who must keep improvising ever more complicated explanations. Allnut’s Pidgen winds up being the most interesting character in the play, as – unlike the one-dimensional or stock types who mostly populate British farce – he has the opportunity to actually grow a bit over the course of the play, asserting himself with respect to his boss and beginning to free himself from his (offstage) mother.
Bill Karukas, as the officious hotel manager, and Albert Coia, as the tip-mongering waiter, present their stock characters effectively. As Ronnie, Jane’s husband, Dustin Wright has too modes: bellicose and lachrymose, and he has no qualms about overacting in either mode. Karen Batra rounds out the cast as the non-English speaking Italian maid.
One of the strengths of the production is that the various accents for the characters are done consistently and believably; RP for Richard, George, Jane, Pamela, Pamela, and the manager; lower class for Ronnie; Irish for the waiter, and Italian for the maid.
Kara Desmond’s costume design provides delightful looks for several of the characters. The body’s intentionally ill-fitting, somewhat backwards white suit is especially nice. The maid’s gaudy red dress at the end of the show, the manager’s elegant suit, and the waiter’s outfit are also notable, and Jane looks fetching in her relatively short blue nightie.
A minor time disconnect: The program notes that the play takes place around 8:30 p.m. However, the clock on the Westminster tower seen outside the window proclaims that it is 3. Oh well.
TAP’s production of Out of Order is very skilled and runs smoothly. Nevertheless, the whole often seems less than the sum of its well-presented parts. That is attributable principally to the play itself, which is highly formulaic and, as the roughly 18th script of this kind that Cooney wrote, has a distinct by-the-numbers feel. This is particularly true during the first act, which as it works hard to set up the variety of hopefully amusing situations that will come to fruition later, is more labored than funny. The second act, stronger and faster-paced, provides a greater comic payoff, and the audience’s engagement and frequency of laughter increased accordingly after intermission.
A New Year and what better to welcome it than with laughter. Out of Order follows that traditional British farce plot–ladies running around in their underwear, gentlemen’s trousers falling down, and total confusion as to who is who. Out of Order is yet another success in the numerous Ray Cooney comedies so sit back, forget your troubles and have a good laugh.
Photos by Peter Hill
- Richard Willey: Joshua Dickinson
- Jane Worthington: Kat Sanchez
- George Pidgen: John Allnutt
- Gladys Foster: Jillian Bonahoom
- The Manager: Bill Karukas
- The Waiter: Albert Coia
- Pamela Willey: Sue Edwards
- Ronnie Worthington: Dustin Wright
- The Maid: Karen Batra
- A Body/Detective: Mike Holland
- Director: Malcolm Edwards
- Producers: Barbara Esquibel, Dina Green
- Stage Manager: Lee Zahnow
- Assistant Stage Manager: George Krumbhaar
- Assistant Stage Manager: Dina Green
- Assistant Stage Manager/Window: George Sinks
- Set Designer: Andy Simmons
- Master Carpenter: Peter Finkel
- Lighting Designer: Ann Marie Castrigno
- Costume Designer: Kara Desmond
- Props/Set Dressing: Scott Stark, Andy Simmons
Disclaimer: The Arlington Players provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review. TAP also purchased advertising on the ShowBizRadio.net web site, which did not influence this review.
This article can be linked to as: http://washingtondc.showbizradio.com/goto/9088.
Bob Ashby has been an active participant in the Washington-area community theater scene since his arrival in town in 1975.