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'Til Beth Do Us Part
a Farce
CATEGORY :
by Jones, Hope, & Wooten

COMPANY : Pumphouse Players [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Legion Theatre
ID# 4088

SHOWING : June 10, 2011 - June 19, 2011

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PRODUCTION DESCRIPTION

In this side-splitting comic romp about marriage, career-driven Suzannah Hayden needs a lot more help on the home front than she's getting from her husband, Gibby. Lately, nurturing his marriage of twenty-seven years hasn't been the highest priority for Gibby, but pretty soon he'll wish it had been. Enter Beth Bailey, Suzannah's newly-hired assistant, a gregarious, highly-motivated daughter of the South. To Suzannah's delight, Beth explodes into the Hayden household and whips it into an organized, well-run machine. This couldn't have happened at a better time for Suzannah, since her boss, Celia Carmichael, the C.E.O. of Carmichael's Chocolates, is flying in soon for an important make-or-break business dinner. Gibby grows increasingly wary as Beth insinuates herself into more and more aspects of their lives. In no time, she exceeds her duties as a household assistant and interjects herself into Suzannah's career. As Suzannah's dependence on Beth grows and Gibby's dislike of the woman deepens, Suzannah gives Beth carte blanche to change anything in the household that "will make it run more efficiently." And the change Beth makes is convincing Suzannah that Gibby must go! When he realizes it's Suzannah's career Beth is really after, a newly-determined Gibby sets out to save his marriage aided by Suzannah's best friend, Margo, a wisecracking and self-deprecating divorcee and her ex-husband, Hank, who is in the midst of his own mid-life crisis. Their effort to stop Beth at any cost sets up the wildly funny climax in which things go uproariously awry just as Suzannah's boss arrives for that all-important dinner. Whether you're married, single, rethinking your divorce or currently being controlled by someone up to no good, you're sure to enjoy this family-friendly, laugh-out-loud Jones/Hope/Wooten comedy!


CAST & CREW LIST
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REVIEWS

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Beth etc...
by voyager
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
3.5
This was a fairly nice, if uneven production.

The problem was that Kip Henderson (Gibby) and Rene Voige (Suzy) were supposed to be married but had no chemistry. The actress playing Beth was very quiet to the point of barely being heard.

The 2nd act was where things got better. Funny, running around 'Three's Comany' like slapstick that made me laugh. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]
Delayed Farce
by Dedalus
Tuesday, August 2, 2011
3.5
Farce can be a very contradictory beast. The “Bull in the China Shop” of theatrical genres, it can run roughshod over such niceties as logic and consistency and character and plot, all in a hot-headed race for the desperation-rooted belly laugh. And, in my mind, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. On the other hand, farce can also be as delicate as a china figurine, shattering into a thousand pieces at the first sign of depth or compassion.

Take “’Til Beth Do Us Part,” by Jones, Hope, and Wooten, authors of such Community Theatre favorites as “Dearly Departed,” “Christmas Belles,” “The Dixie Swim Club,” and “The Red Velvet Cake War.” To be sure, it ends with a slam-bang scene that rockets through the stratosphere of desperation, mistaken identity, desperation, men in drag, desperation, absurdity, and desperation. (Did I mention how important desperation is to farce?) The problem is that it’s preceded by ninety minutes of basic bland sit com. All pay-off with no set-up, the play languorously putters away at 25 MPH then suddenly goes to 125 MPH as if it had been accelerating all along.

The fact that Pumphouse Players’ production closed over three weeks ago just adds to the timing issues of both this production and this review.

Gibby and Suzannah Hayden are sharing their empty nest in a fragile détente. Suzannah has found a new career in the chocolate industry and Gibby chafes at the time she doesn’t devote to his every need. Enter Beth Bailey, a new personal assistant for Suzannah who seems to be making it her duty to keep Gibby at wit’s end and out the door. Beth may have ulterior motives, and Gibby enlists his friend Hank to help expose Beth for the conniving intruder she seems to be. One half-baked scheme later and Hank is in a dress, Suzannah is panicking, Beth is plotting, doors are slamming, and a visitor from London is playing witness to it all.

Part of the problem with Pumphouse’s languidly-paced set-up may be the fact that the actress playing Beth puts on a Southern accent so thick she is totally unintelligible. I mean TOTALLY unintelligible. At one point her accent is supposed to go away, but she garbled and nasalized her lines so badly I couldn’t tell whether she dropped the accent or not. When you have to rely on context and others’ reactions to decipher the plot, it’s just too much work for too little pay-off.

This is not to say that the production didn’t have its pleasures. Kip Henderson and Rene Voige perfectly captured the rhythms of a couple long-married and routine-reliant. That there is a long-lasting love between the two was apparent from the start and really helped sell the absurd story contrivances. I found myself really rooting for Mr. Henderson’s Gibby, and smiling at the utter lameness of his plan. (He also gave one of the best pratfalls I’ve seen when he flips over the back of an errant sofa.) Daniel Rich, Cathy McDaniel and Celia Carmichael also do some nice character work in various supporting roles.

In other words, this production had all the ingredients for a truly memorable farce. All that was missing was an ever-increasing current of desperation from the starting gate. What it offered was a pleasant, evenly-paced comedy that took far too long to find its well-timed feet. What it offered was 5/6 of a good ensemble whose work was undercut at every opportunity by the sixth cast member.

Still, the frantic last scene was a riot to behold and a joy to hear. It was not too little, but it was assuredly too late.

-- Brad Rudy (BKRudy@aol.com)

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