Rumors: Frenetic farce has its moments

Reviewed by Iris Winston

Categories: Community Theatre

Rumors at OLT

Rumors at Ottawa Little Theatre. Left to Right: Mike Kennedy, Louis Lemire, Christine Drew, Heather Archibald, Bob Hicks, Joyce Landry. Photo by Maria Vartanova.

Rumors
By Neil Simon
Ottawa Little Theatre

The frenzy of farce can be tiring, but the alternative of moving at a more measured pace generally gives audiences too much time to think about a flawed, illogical storyline. This is likely the main reason that, in the Ottawa Little Theatre production of Neil Simon’s 1988 farce Rumors, director Joe O’Brien has opted for speed, light and high decibels to compensate for the problem of a rocky opening premise.

In Rumors, the action opens at the upscale home of the unseen central character, a municipal politician, who has shot himself through the ear lobe. The first of four couples of guests arriving to celebrate the tenth wedding anniversary of their hosts find him in a pool of blood (off stage), his wife absent and no celebratory dinner apparent. Inexplicably, the first arrivals, both lawyers, decide to hide the truth and pretend all is well. The result is a convoluted series of lies and rumors, with the saving grace of a strong ending.

The script is not in the same league as Barefoot in the Park, The Odd Couple or several other plays in the Simon lexicon. But Rumors does offer a number of funny moments, even for non-lovers of farce (I confess to be one of them.)

The well-choreographed cast of the OLT production delivers as required, feeding into the spiral of chaos. But, despite some strong performances, especially from the four male guests, the emphasis on overdrive action and some over-the-top costuming is wearying rather than amusing.

It is hard to save a show when the rumor that Rumors is not one of Simon’s better works is true.

Rumors continues at Ottawa Little Theatre until February 1, 2014.

Director: Joe O’Brien
Set: Robin Riddihough
Lighting: John Solman
Sound: Melinda Ainsworth Roy
Costumes: Glynis Ellens

Cast:
Chris Gorman…………………………………….Joyce Landry
Ken Gorman………………………………………Bob Hicks
Claire Ganz……………………………………….Heather Archibald
Lenny Ganz……………………………………….Steve Martin
Ernie Cusack………………………………………Louis Lemire
Cookie Cusack…………………………………….Christine Drew
Glenn Cooper……………………………………..Mike Kennedy
Cassie Cooper……………………………………..Dianna Renee Yorke
Officer Welch……………………………………..Keith Jacklin
Officer Pudney…………………………………….Margaret Cody


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