August 1, 2008

Theater’s Show is a Farce to Be Reckoned With

By Mark Lowry, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Texas

Aug. 1--FORT WORTH -- Does farce need to have a reason?

Nah, and maybe it's funnier when there is no purpose -- other than to spoof the genre and wring laughter from the audience, as in Paul Slade Smith's Unnecessary Farce.

Robin Armstrong directs the comedy's area premiere, which opened Thursday at Circle Theatre. The production falls into a familiar trap of so many farces: It's slow on the takeoff, but sticks the landing, when everything has gone completely bonkers.

Chad Gowen Spear and Becca Shivers are none-too-bright cops Eric and Billie, heading an undercover motel sting to get the mayor (Gary Moody) to admit to sexy accountant Karen (Jennifer Pasion) that he embezzled money. Mix with an intimidating-looking but wimpy security chief (David H.M. Lambert) and a Clansman (with a "C") with killer bagpipes and an angry brogue (Justin Flowers). Then bake and top with the mayor's dizzy wife (Deborah Brown, who always delivers the comic goods, even when she's brought in as a closer), and it's one silly but funny souffle.

It calls for impeccably timed physical comedy, and although some of this felt labored in the first act, it all jelled nicely in the second. And any time Shivers had dialogue, you could count on hilarity.

Clare DeVries designed the set of two adjoining and mirroring motel rooms, which means eight of that most important element to any decent farce: slammable doors.

Unnecessary Farce Through Aug. 23; 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays, 3 and 8 p.m. Saturdays

Circle Theatre, 230 W. Fourth St., Fort Worth



Be advised: Some strong language, much gun-pointing, sight gags and various stages of undress (but no nudity)

Runtime: One hour, 55 minutes with one intermission

Best reason to go: For most of the show, Becca Shivers was the scene stealer. But then Deborah Brown happened.


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