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Room Service

a Farce
CATEGORY : COMEDY
by John Murray & Allen Boretz

COMPANY : Theatre in the Square [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Theatre in the Square [WEBSITE]
ID# 2653

SHOWING : January 16, 2008 - February 24, 2008

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PRODUCTION DESCRIPTION

Often described as one of the great comedy successes of all time, this mile-a-minute, laugh-a-minute farce was also a hilarious Marx Brothers movie. A wily producer (Hugh Adams) makes hide-and-seek attempts to stall creditors and hotel officials while trying to raise cash to finance his big Broadway hit. Hear-gear shenanigans with some of Atlanta's best comic actors.


CAST & CREW LIST
Director James Donadio
Set Designer John Thigpen
Gordon Miller Hugh Adams
Leo Davis Andrew Benator
Sasha Bruce Evers
Greg Wagner Don Finney
Jenkins/Bank Messenger Charles Green
Christine Marlowe Cara Mantella
Hogarth/Dr. Glass Bryan Mercer
Harry Binion Bill Murphey
Faker Englund Geoff Uterhardt
Joe Gribble Robert Wayne
Click to Submit Cast & Crew Info for this production
REVIEWS

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May the Farce be With You
by Dedalus
Sunday, February 17, 2008
4.5
It’s finally happened! A farce is being produced in the Atlanta area that looks as if the design and conceptual team know what they’re doing! That creaky old Community Theatre stand-by, Murray and Boretz’s “Room Service,” is being given a top-notch professional mounting that is face-paced, funny, ludicrous, funny, rife with desperation, funny, filled with inspired directorial flourishes, funny, and way-way over the top. It’s also very funny.

For years, now, I’ve bemoaned the tendency of Atlanta directors to treat farce as if it were realistic comedy (or, in one recent case, treating a realistic comedy as if it were a farce), citing over-realistic performances devoid of the heightened sense of desperation farce requires as the chief culprit. Treating farce realistically is a little like flavoring ice cream with salt and pepper.

But, in T²’s “Room Servce,” director James Donadio and his design team have put together a production that meets my picky and detailed expectations. Theatrical Maven Gordon Miller (Hugh Adams) is holed up in the hotel run by his brother-in-law (Robert Wayne) with the cast and production team of his latest project, “Godspeed.” [Insert goofy wave here]. The problem is, he’s currently penniless, he’s being evicted, the hotel’s books are being audited by an ambitious manager (a way over-the-top Don Finney – Jumping Butterballs, but he makes me laugh!), the naïve writer is in from Oswego prepared to be rich and famous, and the cast is hungry. That’s when things begin to go wrong. Add in an over-efficient assistant (Cara Mantella adding humor to the “straight” role), a dim-bulb secretary (LeeAnna Lambert, squeaky voiced and squeezable), an eccentric director (Bill Murphey in top form), a Russian waiter formerly of the Moscow Art Theatre (Bruce Evers with a nicely penetrable accent), a Hotel Doctor and an agent of the “We Never Sleep” collection agency (both played by Bryan Mercer, sometimes in the same scene), and a … well I don’t know what role Fakir plays, but he’s played by Googie Uterhardt, so you do the math.

We also have lingerie on display (disappointingly, only male), several doors that open and close with perfect timing (and just what does Fakir do in that closet all the time?), and split second timing, and you’re laughing so constantly, you fail to notice how dated the script is and how shallow the characters are. But this is farce! It’s SUPPOSED to be dated and shallow. Many years ago, my lovely and talented spouse was in a production of this that almost killed our relationship at the start. (Yes, I made the rookie mistake of telling her what I really thought of it.) It’s telling that that production ran a good forty minutes longer than this one, and I didn’t notice any cuts in the script this time around. That, my friends, is the difference a lively pace can make.

The set was the sort of ludicrous, over-large hotel suite found only on stage. It had a lovely pull-down bed that was used to beautiful effect, and a ledge, complete with multi-bulb hotel sign outside (though, I sorta kinda wished the “t” in Hotel would have remained burned out throughout). It makes no architectural sense, but it makes perfect farce-sense. If I have one complaint about the design, a pivotal moosehead strikes me as more baby-moose than great-gonzo-mother-moose that the script really calls for.

The cast is uniformly excellent and the ensemble work is near-perfect. And, Mr. Donadio has chosen to end the piece with an unscripted switcheroo that is absolutely inspired in its conception, execution, and effect.

“Room Service” is definitely worth a drive up to Marietta and will be running until February 24 (unless, as sometimes happens, it extends its run – last night’s mid-run performance was almost sold out).

I had a great time, I hope you will too, enjoy the journey, May the Farce Be with You, and Godspeed! [Insert goofy wave here].

-- Brad Rudy (BKRudy@aol.com)


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Room With Askew
by Mama Alma
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
4.5
I don't know why I don't get out to Marietta's Theater in the Square more than I do. It's actually closer than many of the places I frequent. I think it's because, as much as I decry the American "cult of personality," I tend to frequent theaters where I know the actors or the director or the theater owners, and I've just never gotten in with the TITS crowd. It's the "Hey Norm" syndrome, I guess.

So it was with Room Service: I knew several people in the cast, and recognized Hugh Adams from an earlier production I'd seen him in. I'm also old enough (ahem) to remember the Marx Brothers and so had a passing familiarity with the story.

Hugh Adams as Gordon Miller does a wonderful job in a killer part, he's in practically every scene and the first one required him to don every stick of clothing in his closet in one of the show's many running gags. Having recently been pulled onto stage in one of those "involve the audience" vignettes, I can tell you it's HOT AS BLAZES up there. So, as I watch Adams putting on more and more clothes, my heart goes out to him. He's sweating bullets. Even after he's no long wearing his closet, he must keep his hat on (it's a 30s thing), so I worry about heat stroke. His delivery is somewhere between conniving huckster and soothing conman, with just a hint of hysteria. He was delightful.

LeeAnna Lambert (Hilda) also is a ray of sunshine, enlivening every scene she's in. I've seen LeeAnna in several things, and she gets my Meryl Streep award for never speaking in the same accent twice. I've heard Cockney, Louisianan, and now Brooklynese. She's a hoot, as enjoyable as any Judy Holliday vehicle I've seen. [It takes brains to play the dumb blonde and make it funny – more so in these modern times.]

Another high point is Andrew Benator as Leo, the big city naïf. He becomes Gordon's foil in an elaborate scheme to keep the hotel room, which is a prerequisite to finishing the production of Leo's play, which is a prerequisite for paying for the aforesaid hotel room. Yeah, it's a Gordian Knot of a House of Cards. Everything seems to be going well – until it all starts to come crashing down. I've seen Benator channel Woody Allen, but he goes in a different direction here, evoking an early Woody Harrelson.

Tension arrives in the form of Don Finney's hotel inspector. Finney is absolutely hilarious in an over the top caricature of an officious knob polisher. It's not a subtle performance, but then, this is farce. The blustery flamboyance of his portrayal is put to good use later when William Murphey's Binion imitates him on the phone, right down to his favorite phrase, "Suffering Butterballs." The audience loved it.

Googie Uterhardt and Cara Mantella inject as much inspiration as they can into parts which are pretty stock. They're both good, but the parts (second banana / girl with obvious charms) are underwritten and serve mainly as sight gags. Charles Green gives the illusion of running very fast and still standing still (kind of a live action roadrunner cartoon), and Bryan Mercer defies physics in a dual role that merits its own dialogue cue. [Being familiar with Bryan, I found this bit of stage business a scream, but his characterizations were so different, I'm not sure how many in the audience actually realized one person played both parts, even with the dialogue reference.]

Add in lots of slapstick, one scene I've watched over and over on the TITS website and still can't figure out how they do it, and a big reveal at the end, all make for a thoroughly enjoyable evening. It won't make you any smarter, or illuminate the human condition, or reveal who's going to become the Democratic nominee for President, but it will cause you to laugh a lot and may thereby extend your life a few years. So, be healthy, go out and enjoy a show.
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