July 23, 2009


‘Unnecessary Farce’ a must see

PlayPhoto provided by CRT
From left, Dustin Charles as Officer Eric Sheridan, Crystal Rona Peterson as Officer Billie Dwyer, Mark Bader as Mayor Meekly, Morgan Reis as Karen Brown and Joshua Murphy as Todd as seen in Cortland Repertory Theatre’s “Unnecessary Farce.”

Living and Leisure Editor

Get out the credit card because “Unnecessary Farce” is one of those shows you’ve got to see, even if you can’t afford it.
The wacky farce by Paul Slade Smith opened at Cortland Repertory Theater Wednesday to a spontaneous standing ovation by its two hour end at the Edward Jones Playhouse in Little York.
The show runs through Aug. 1 at the Dwyer Memorial Park and people who enjoy a great laugh will like this show. Two doofy cops, Dustin Charles as Eric Sheridan and Crystal Rona Peterson as Billie Dwyer, are on a quest to catch Mayor Meekly, played by Mark Bader. The mayor is trying to steal from city coffers during an interview with accountant Karen Brown, played by Morgan Reis, in a hotel room. Instead, they stumble upon a bigger caper and manage to get into all sorts of trouble, bound up, gagged, threatened, thrown into and out of closets.
“People running in and out of rooms with their clothing off hardly passes as plot,” says the mayor early on in Act I, as we watch precisely this spectacle unfold. And he’s right. But the playwright is having so much fun with his characters.
Kerby Thompson steps out of the office as producing artistic director of CRT to direct this piece, with assistant direction provided by Corrine Grover. The show is a riot from start to finish. People can call 800-427-6160 for tickets.
Brown tries to help expose the mayor’s financial indiscretions in one hotel room with a hidden camera, and the pair are viewed by the cops in the room next door, watching the video tape unfold. But things go awry immediately as Eric Sheridan is attracted to the accountant and the two are climbing all over each over, caught on tape while policeman Billy is looking on. That’s nothing. Agent Frank, played by Justin Theo Klose, in charge of security for the mayor, arrives to secure the room for him and winds up in bed with the accountant himself. Then the action kicks up when Scottish hit man Todd, played by Joshua Murphy, captures the cops and Brown and plans to kill them. In the meantime, the mayor’s wife, Mary, played by Erica Livingston, floats in and out, looking for the mayor, who himself manages to pop in on one of the groping couples at the most inopportune times.
Playwright Smith plays the character’s foibles to the hilt and then plops them in an unlikely scene: Eric is shy of women and here he is, unable to control his lust for the accountant. Todd has an anger issue and when he’s furious, his brogue becomes so thick you can’t understand it — so he plays that up to the hilt, yet it is understood by Billie, the fearful cop afraid of her gun who translates to all how Todd is planning to kill her.
The cast was amazing. Peterson laid out a 15-minute line in hyper speed without missing a beat. Bader and Livingston had small parts, but they played them perfectly. Murphy is wonderful with his Scottish brogue and Klose, a riot in his precise officialness. Charles and Reis are great.
The set was a perfect vehicle as we saw two sets of couples in hotel rooms side by side, often with one couple in one bed making love and another couple in bed, fighting — just as their personalities were at odds with their circumstances. This quality was constantly pushed by the playwright, making it such a successful piece.


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