Review: ‘Unnecessary Farce’ at McLean Community Players

Misunderstandings? Check. Discarded clothing and sexual innuendos? Check. A ridiculous number of doorways? Check. An absurd plot that you feel compelled to see through to the end despite the high frequency of groan-worthy jokes? Check and check! Unnecessary Farce, written by Paul Slade Smith, is a show that is jam-packed with all the classic tropes that make up a typical farce and McLean Community Players brings it to the stage with great aplomb.

The cast of 'Unnecessary Farce': L to R: Bob Sams, Marilyn Pifer, Brianna Goode, Brendan Chaney, Lynley Peoples, Scott Landsman, and Stephen T. Wheeler. Photo by Irish Eyes Photography by Toby.

The cast of ‘Unnecessary Farce’: L to R: Bob Sams, Marilyn Pifer, Brianna Goode, Brendan Chaney, Lynley Peoples, Scott Landsman, and Stephen T. Wheeler. Photo by Irish Eyes Photography by Toby.

Director Jessie Roberts deftly maneuvers this ensemble cast through an uproarious story that starts out innocuously enough (two cops and an accomplice attempting to get enough evidence to implicate the mayor of fraud) but swiftly turns into something that is….well, farcical. Without giving too much away, people are not all that they may seem and it is wise to be wary of men with bagpipes.

Scott Landsman and Brianna Goode play Officer Eric Sheridan and Karen Brown, accountant. Landsman does a great job with the physical comedy aspects of the show as he valiantly jumps on beds, tussles with phone cords, runs in and out of doorways, and drops trou. Goode is bubbly and enthusiastic with expressive features that keep the audience laughing throughout. She is very good at playing equal parts aroused and flustered, which in the context of this show is a compliment.

Mayor Meekly and his wife, Mary Meekly are brought to life by Bob Sams and Marilyn Pifer. Sams is bumbling and adorable as he walks into situation-after-situation that are hilariously misleading to his point of view. It is hard to say much about Pifer without giving too much away but just know that, although she does not appear until later on in the show, she is more than worth the wait!

Stephen T. Wheeler and Brendan Chaney are Agent Frank and Todd, respectively. Wheeler’s cowardly Agent Frank runs the gamut from thumb sucking to some tongue-twisterish lines of security jargon. Chaney’s impressive Scottish brogue must be heard to be believed (if not always understood).  Both men masterfully embody both the physical and vocal comedic elements that contribute to an effective farce.

Officer Billie Dwyer (Lynley Peoples) tries to keep Mary Meekly (Marilyn Pifer) from taking her gun. Photo by Irish Eyes Photography by Toby.

Officer Billie Dwyer (Lynley Peoples) tries to keep Mary Meekly (Marilyn Pifer) from taking her gun. Photo by Irish Eyes Photography by Toby.

Lynley Peoples, as Officer Billie Dwyer, is a highlight of the production.  She embodies the stereotypical rookie with impeccable comedic timing and inflection. You are guaranteed to laugh every time she is on stage. Even being bound and gagged at one point, which probably would inhibit the efforts of some lesser actors, does not hamper the success of Peoples’ antics. Her endearing vivacity alone is worth the price of admission.

Contributing to the success of the show in a different way is a large crew of offstage talent. As with many productions, naming them all would probably double the length of this review. Some important mentions include Carol A. Strachan (Producer), Colleen Stock (Stage Manager), and Jerry Gideon and Adrian Steel (Assistant Stage Managers). Ian Brown designed the set (which perfectly portrays the sterile banality of motel rooms) and Kimberly Crago designed the lighting. Sound design was by Jon Roberts and costumes by Judy Whelihan.

If you are in the mood for something diverting, raunchy, and delightfully silly, go see MCP’s Unnecessary Farce!

Running Time: Two hours and one 15-minute intermission.

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Unnecessary Farce plays through May 14, 2016 at McLean Community Players performing at The Alden Theatre – 1234 Ingleside Avenue, in McLean, VA. For tickets, call the box office at (703) 790-9223, or purchase them online.

LINKS:
Meet the Cast of McLean Community Players’ ‘Unnecessary Farce’: Part 1: Marilyn Pifer.

Meet the Cast of McLean Community Players’ ‘Unnecessary Farce’: Part 2: Bob Sams.

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