The Arlington Players presents Ray Cooney’s Out Of Order, an outlandish, fast-paced British farce. Malcolm Edwards directs this madcap production, with so many twists, turns, and roundabouts that they should put up a warning sign for whiplash!
Set Designer Andy Simmons and his construction crew create a refined suite of the Westminster Hotel, with full walls covered in elegant wallpaper and crisp trim. A large window takes up the center of the stage, framed with stylish drapery, and through which you can see the iconic Big Ben. With three separate entrances, the stage lends plenty of free space (needed for the chaotic, scrambled blocking that the script demands). Fancy props such as a chandelier, plush ottomans, and framed artwork complete the setting.
Lighting Designer Ryan Desmond ensures that the chandelier is able to light up all on its own, which is a nice touch, and Sound Designer Chris Kagy uses effects such as a ringing telephone and radio music throughout the show. Kara Desmond dresses the characters in nice clothes (suit and ties, proper dresses), but, as is typical in British farces, they don’t stay on for too long! Soon, women in lingerie and men clutching towels to their waists sweep the stage…everything becomes lost in confusion, including the character’s clothing!
Junior Minister Richard Willey (Joshua Dickinson) has reserved a hotel room so that he may play out an illicit rendezvous with Secretary Jane Worthington (Kat Sanchez). This top-secret meeting seems to be going off without a hitch—that is, until they pull back the curtains and discover the body of a man, the window having slammed down upon his neck! Terrified of negative press and the scandal it would bring, Willey refuses to summon the police, instead calling the minister’s personal secretary George Pidgen (the sweetly innocent and somewhat buffoonish John Allnutt) for help. Soon, they devise a plan that will ensure that the body is found elsewhere, but between the ever-imposing hotel manager (Bill Karukas), a curious waiter (a hilarious performance by Albert Coia), and the constant interruptions of suspicious spouses – Sue Edwards (Pamela Willey) and Dustin Wright (Ronnie Worthington), Willey must improvise a web of stories, lies, and false identities in order to keep everyone happy, and herself out of an embarrassing situation.
The falsities begin to spiral out of control, with not one elaborate story even finished being set up before another begins to edge its way in. Breakdowns, confusion, and downright temper tantrums take the stage at breakneck speed, and the actors do an excellent job keeping up with the frenzied pace, despite some trampled lines (everyone is in such a tizzy that the actors talk over each other at times).
Will the Junior Minister be able to talk his way out of the quickly crumbling situation? Whose body is this, anyway?
Fast, energetic, and with moments of pure hilarity supplied by a talented cast, The Arlington Players’ Out Of Order is a good bet for a fun evening out!
Running Time: Two hours, including one 15-minute intermission.
Out of Order runs through February 16, 2013 at The Arlington Players at The Thomas Jefferson Community Center – 125 South Old Glebe Road, in Arlington, VA. Purchase tickets at the box office, or order them online.