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Out of Order
a Farce
by Ray Cooney

COMPANY : Stage Door Players [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Stage Door Players [WEBSITE]
ID# 4371

SHOWING : September 21, 2012 - October 14, 2012



Just in time for Election season. In the tradition of the great Stage Door comedies like "Perfect Wedding," "Unnecessary Farce" and "Lend Me a Tenor," take one crafty politician, a naive typist in her underwear, an unsuspecting new husband, and a "body" that keeps disappearing, and what do you get? An evening of hysterical laughter. No one does farce like Stage Door Players!

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Out of Control
by Dedalus
Thursday, December 20, 2012
With last year's "Lend me a Tenor," Stage Door's Robert Egizio showed a deft hand at staging break-neck full-tilt-desperation farce. Now, that promise is doubly ensured with the fast-paced, door-slamming "Out of Order," a play with absolutely no redeeming intellectual value, other than non-stop laughs at the antics of a stable of farceurs well-playing characters behaving badly.

And, to make things even better, the �people behaving badly� are from the political arena, feeding all of our primal instincts of the stereotypical sleazy politician. Richard Willey (yes the hero is REALLY named �Dick Willey,� so there�s no danger of subtlety here) is a conservative MP playing hooky from an all-night debate going on in Parliament. His brief encounter with the comely (and young) secretary (Jane Worthington) of an opposing MP is cut short by the discovery of a body in the hotel suite rented for the occasion. Relying on his hapless assistant (George) to untangle the pieces may not have been the best of ideas, because soon, everyone has a different lie to tell, a different scheme that backfires, a different elaborate tale to remember. Toss into the mix Jane�s quick-tempered husband, Richard�s not-as-absent-as-expected wife, the nurse of George�s ailing mother, the jaded hotel staff for whom this is just another day, and a free-slamming window with a mind of its own, and soon everyone is running ragged, slamming doors, dropping trousers, and otherwise misbehaving without MISBEHAVING, and the farce checklist is complete and filled.

In one sense, Ray Cooney�s play breaks a cardinal rule of farce � rather than have the complications compile to a critical-mass of desperation, he chooses instead to string together a series of problems, each one replacing the sorta-kinda-solved one that came before. But, rather than undercut the �escalation� farce so desperately needs, this instead gives the gifted cast a chance to increasingly over-react to the next problem, so the effect is the same build-up, the same drive to desperation that becomes fuel for uncontrolled laughter. I suspect he could have ended with a sequence depicting the most trivial problem imaginable, and this group would carry on as if it were Armageddon.

This is definitely a cast that plays well together, that seems to live and breathe the essence of farce. Matthew Myers is so blithe and clueless as Richard, he literally stays �above it all,� calmly instigating shenanigans that he knows will be unraveled by everyone in his orbit. Like many Cooney protagonists, it is his behavior that drives the plot, but he seems to be the calmest of all.

It is Terry Guest as George who has the lion�s share of fast-talking, quick-change desperation wallowing � He�s the one who has to �clean up the mess,� who has to improvise and live with the results of his not-always-very-bright schemes. Just as George is often inspired in his far-fetched choices, Mr. Guest is equally inspired in the acting choices he makes, the stiff-upper-lip pseudo-calm that does little to mask the torrent of wild panic aching to run free.

As the ladies in their lives, Jenny Holden is a lovely and funny Jane, a worthy object of anyone�s affection. Arriving late in the game are Stephanie Wilkinson as Pamela, Richard�s not-supposed-to-be-in-town spouse, and Dina Shadwell as the nurse to George�s long-suffering mother. Both are women �of a certain age� who nevertheless find a burning core of passion brought to life by just the right phrase, just the kind-enough-to-convince gesture. Both manage to wring more laughs out of the roles than a cursory read of the script would warrant. In the supporting roles, James Baskin, Rial Ellsworth, and Pat Bell as the hotel staff, Doug Graham as Jane�s spitfire husband, and David Allen Grindstaff as the not-dead-yet corpse all create vivid unforgettable characters who earn their place, for good or ill, in the antics from the center.

Chuck Welcome has built a warm and welcoming hotel suite with a logistically impressive, seemingly self-aware window that falls (with a slam, of course) at all the right moments. This is an obviously expensive hotel, and the set is built and dressed to truly showcase that expense.

Director Robert Egizio has orchestrated a show with a break-neck pace without letting the character and whimsy, the quiet moments slip by unnoticed. This is his second farce in less than a year, and he can obviously make the genre sit up and bark. Okay, maybe the third looks-like-fel***tio-but-really-isn�t gag may have been excessive (or not), but the whole production whisks by faster than the Underground missing your stop.

I�m told farce is an �acquired� taste, but I have my doubts. We all love laughing at people behaving badly (or, more accurately, people trying to behave badly), and bawdy double-entendres are truly a thing of joy and a beauty to behold. If nothing else, �Out of Order,� especially in the hands of a talented cast and director, finds the key to unlock almost anyone�s funny bone with its (seeming) �Out of Control� characters and plot.

It really made me laugh!

-- Brad Rudy (

Silly Fun
by playgoer
Sunday, October 28, 2012
"Out of Order" by Ray Cooney is a British sex farce that exaggerates the complications of the genre to sometimes ridiculous extremes. Richard Willey is a member of Parliament who has chosen to rendezvous with his mistress at a London hotel instead of participating in an all-night debate. With a suspicious manager, a dead private eye on the ledge, and spouses showing up unexpectedly, the action ratchets up quickly. Richard's aide, George Pigden, tries to help out, but ends up adding to the romantic complications. It's all pretty silly, frenetic stuff.

The cast is directed by Robert Egizio to keep the action moving along briskly. There's not a weak link among them. James Baskin is a starchy hotel manager, Rial Ellsworth is a hotel waiter who will provide any service for a fee, and Pat Bell is an English-challenged maid. Matthew Myers brings a lot of energy to Richard Willey, as does Terry Guest with George Pigden. Jenny Holden brings a stylized sexiness to mistress Jane, and Doug Graham injects a lower-class vibe to her husband Ronnie. Tiny roles are filled by Dina Shadwell and Stephanie Wilkinson with comic abandon, and Davin Allen Grindstaff uses his rubber-boned body to great effect as A Body.

Check Welcome's set is magnificent, as always. An elegant hotel suite is sparsely furnished, but contains a closet and window that require split-second open/close effects. It all adds up to a consistently delightful, swiftly moving show that may not be highly memorable, but is highly entertaining. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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