UNNECESSARY FARCEby Paul Slade Smith
Allen Community Theatre
Directed by – Leslie Austin
Set Design – Randy Sandifer
Lighting Design – Richard Stephens, Jr.
Stage Manager – Anastasia Shelley
Nicholas Tischer – Eric Sheridan
Becca Tischer – Billie Dwyer
Penny Chinn – Karen Brown
Doug Smetzer – Mayor Meekly
Martin Sinise – Agent Frank
Audie Preston – Todd
Heather Shin – Mary Meekly
Reviewed Performance: 5/7/2017
Reviewed by Carol M. Rice, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
Randy Sandifer’s set of connecting hotel rooms is perfectly designed (with plenty of the obligatory doors necessary for all the crazy action), although the peach color scheme is a bit bland for a comedy. It’s easy to overlook that once everything gets underway, though.
Under the fine direction of Leslie Austin, Unnecessary Farce is a wild roller coaster ride from start to finish. Her casting was well nigh perfect. Real-life couple Nicholas Tischer and Becca Tischer start us off as the near incompetent police officers, Eric Sheridan and Billie Dwyer. Both have amazing facial expressions and handle the massive amounts of physical comedy beautifully. Ms. Tischer’s squeaky voice and silly hairstyle add to the overall glee of her wannabe cop.
Mr. Tischer is romantically paired with Penny Chinn as city accountant Karen Brown. These two have excellent chemistry together...and neither is afraid to take their clothes off, especially if a laugh is involved! Ms. Chinn has fabulous comedic timing and makes the very most of her ample stage time. Her character, Miss Brown, has a meeting in one of the hotel rooms with Mayor Meekly, played with spot-on dimness by Doug Smetzer. Mr. Smetzer truly nails the clueless small-town politician, and his many entrances and exits get funnier every time he appears. Such a seemingly dim-witted portrayal makes his final scene (no spoilers here!) work even better, just because we don’t expect what’s coming.
Martin Sinise perfectly handles the role of Mayor Meekly’s conflicted bodyguard, Agent Frank. His performance is able to believably and hilariously convey all of the varied emotions of someone who’s not fully committed to a double life. Audie Preston plays Mr. Sinise’s cohort: “Todd,” and his incomprehensible Scottish when angry is worth the price of admission! (That, and his ponytail!) Mr. Preston truly looks and acts the scary thug, whether he’s donned his kilt or not.
The mayor’s wife, Mary Meekly, is portrayed by a nearly unrecognizable Heather Shin. Her gray wig and ultra-frumpy clothes mask the actress’ natural beauty, but she would have been able to pull off the deceptive character without them. The role itself is small, and I personally would have liked to see more of Ms. Shin and her Mary. I can’t go into more without spoilers, but suffice it to say that she handles both ends of the character’s spectrum brilliantly.
While I’ve mentioned a few of the costumes worn by various characters, I can’t compliment the costume designer because none was listed. In fact, other than Mr. Sandifer on set and Richard Stephens, Jr. as lighting designer (who did a nice job with lighting the space), there were no other designers mentioned. As it was, I had to search the bios to find out any listing other than the cast.
Come to think of it, who DOESN’T love a good farce? If you like to laugh and want to see an excellent production of Unnecessary Farce, you really must get to Allen’s Community Theatre. I’ve seen a number of their shows since their inception, and this is by far the best one they have done. You won’t be disappointed.
Allen’s Community Theatre
1210 E. Main Street, #300
Allen, TX 75002
Runs through Sunday, May 21.
Actual days Thursdays at 7:30 pm, Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 pm and Sundays at 3:00 pm
Tickets are $16 to 21.
For information and to purchase tickets, go to http://www.allenscommunitytheatre.net/ address or call the box office at 1-844-822-8849.