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By Paul Slade Smith

Not Right Productions

Director – A.J. Ericson
Producer – Jason Rice
Stage Manager – Alexandra Cook
Fight Director – Joseph L. Taylor II
Set Design – Abby Kipp-Roberts
Sound Design – Elena Martin
Light Design – Kenneth Hall
Costume Design – Nathan Scott, Samantha Pettigrew
Props Design – Terrie W. Justus
Production Assistant – Sidney Murray

Eric Sheridan: Thomas McKee
Billie Dwyer: Kerri Lyn Scott
Karen Brown: Samantha Pettigrew
Mayor Meekly: Chris Espinosa
Agent Frank: Jason R. Davis
Todd: Daniel White
Mary Meekly: Sara Jones

Reviewed Performance: 6/9/2018

Reviewed by Jeri Tellez, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN

Not Right Productions is a new theatre company whose goal is to entertain and challenge audiences. They will do this by offering both more adult, edgy productions and classic and familiar titles. Their presentation of Unnecessary Farce lies on the edgy side, with some mild language and various stages of undress, but mild enough I would rate it PG. I found the intermission music more explicit than anything in the script.

Paul Slade Smith is a Broadway actor who has published two plays, the first of which was Unnecessary Farce. It has received rave reviews, and I can see why. When done well, the script can have you in stitches. This production was nicely done, and had moments of sheer delight. There were times, however, when the pace lagged a bit, and there were a few awkward silences. Overall, it was an enjoyable time.

Director A.J. Ericson chose a talented cast and crew, but fell a bit short with stage directions, as the action at times needed a little nudge to get over a hump. The dialogue was spot on, as far as I could tell, but there was a bit more hemming and hawing than I preferred.

Thomas McKee gave a solid performance as Eric Sheridan, your typical just-a-bit-lacking officer who occasionally had to lie to get himself out of a jam. He did a nice job with the shy, unsure character who at times had to play the alpha male (with little success).

Sheridan’s partner, Billie Dwyer, was portrayed by Kerri Lyn Scott. She did a beautiful job as the struggling rookie cop just trying to find her place on the force. Apparently Dwyer has a hidden linguistic talent, and displays that ability in a beautiful interpretive monologue that got a round of applause during the show I watched.

Karen Brown, portrayed by Samantha Pettigrew, began the show as an uptight accountant in a suit and smart glasses, but as the show progressed, she displayed other abilities and a bit of a wild side. Pettigrew did a good job with the transition, and exhibited herself well as the occasion required.

Chris Espinosa was delightful as Mayor Meekly. He was goofy, lovable, trusting and eventually full of surprises. Espinosa took his curtain call in character, which just added to the fun. Mrs. Meekly (Sara Jones) also had some surprises up her sleeve, which made the marriage dynamic very interesting.

As Agent Frank and Todd, Jason R. Davis and Daniel White, respectively, fill out the cast pleasantly. They both provide comic relief, plot development, and a pratfall or two. The entire cast works well together, which is necessary for an ensemble piece like Unnecessary Farce.

Abby Kipp-Roberts’ set was fitting as a discount hotel with adjoining rooms. They were mirror images, complete with matching ice buckets, artwork and bed linens. One did have to wonder, though, what happened to the second ficus that was apparently moved to make room for a TV.

Costumes, designed by Nathan Scott and Samantha Pettigrew, were lovely, including the Scottish kilt/boxer combination. Whether the bumbling undercover cop, the uptight accountant, the green officer in uniform, the geeky mayor, or the Scotsman in full regalia, all the costumes were perfect for the character. The props designed by Terrie W. Justus were spot on, being just right for whatever the actions required.

Elena Martin’s sound design and Kenneth Hall’s light design were appropriately minimal for the story line. Aside from lights up and down, and the occasional telephone call, there really wasn’t much room for interpretation with these designs. Martin and Hall were wise not trying to do too much.

Unnecessary Farce runs through June 16 at Rover Dramawerks.

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