The Van Wert County Courthouse

Wednesday, Jun. 3, 2020

VWCT Review: ‘Rumors’ hilarious farce

T.P. BRADSHAW/for the VW independent

Got your attention didn’t it? The only rumors being spread by Van Wert Civic are the ones in the production of Neil Simon’s farce Rumors.

In “Rumors,” four wealthy couples gather in suburban New York at their friends’ anniversary party. The play begins with Chris and Ken Gorman, portrayed by Amber Evans and Jeff Kerr, frantically trying to hide the fact their host has been shot, his wife and the servants are missing and — gasp! — there are no snacks, appetizers or ice.  Because the host is the deputy mayor of New York, they decide to do everything they cannot to alert the police, portrayed by Joelle May and Sarah Bennett, or the media, and the lies pile higher than the national debt.

The 'Rumors' cast on the staircase of the Van Wert Civic Theatre set. (photo submitted)
The ‘Rumors’ cast on the staircase of the Van Wert Civic Theatre set. (photo submitted)

Rumors is Simon’s only true farce, although it is a bit more literary than the thousands of slamming doors, pranks and pratfall-filled antics of something like Noises Off or Lend Me a Tenor.  While there are some comedic falls, and a rather sophomoric dance scene, hilarious in itself, the real comedy is in the dialogue — these are gossipy upper-class society types after all. Theatre veteran Steve Lane delivers one of the funniest monologues written with superb comedic timing.

This is a true ensemble piece, all the characters distinct and individually crafted, and director P.S. Luhn (we wonder what the P and S stand for?) gets the very best from his cast. What the show does is highlight the sight gags (Kari Gall’s see-it-to-believe-it dress), sheer lunacy (Jeff Kerr with a towel wrapped around his head) and outright silliness (Jon Hodges trying to keep his air of professionalism as a psychiatrist, during the unraveling of his senses).

Jennifer Napier is the cheated wife of an oily politician, Joe Maurer, and flirts, fumes and flaunts about the stage as if she owns it. Kim Warnecke and Steve Lane establish the most fun relationship as the New Jersey couple who constantly bicker. Jeff Kerr as Chris Gorman has the most fun during a spell when his character is deafened by a gunshot (watch for his facial expressions and the witty humor in the misunderstanding of the ongoing conversation surrounding him).

If the play has any faults, they are very minor and cosmetic, such as, I want to live in the sumptuous Rockland County Mansion, but I would have to refinish the white banister back to its original wood finish. Also as a member of this elite neighborhood, I would insist my local police would enforce a mandatory “no fluorescent fingernail polish” rule.

Rumors brings a script with an ensemble cast together: there’s a party, bullets, crystals, duck fat and everything in between. Look for how well the ensemble meshes in a number of combinations and be ready for the hilarity to begin.

Rumors runs through next weekend, so call Van Wert Civic Theatre box office, 419.238.9689, Monday through Saturday, from 2-6 p.m., for reservations. This is a must-see on anyone’s list of events to do! Go to www.vwct.org for more information.

POSTED: 09/30/14 at 7:31 am. FILED UNDER: Arts & Entertainment, News