BWW Review: RUMORS at Ridgefield Theater Barn
I had the pleasure of viewing the Ridgefield Theater Barn's production of Neil Simon's RUMORS on Saturday, March, 11. The experience was highly enjoyable for everyone, from the clearly entertained audience sitting around tables, to the cast members who all were unmistakably having fun portraying their over-the-top roles, while still staying in character at all times, whether delivering lines or not, on a two-story set with four different entrances.
The cast draws you into this comedy immediately with an intense exchange between a married couple (brilliantly portrayed by Daniel Mulvihill and Leigh Katz) who are in a panic after arriving at a house party to find that the host has shot himself. Their high energy farcical back and forth banter is reminiscent of classic comedies that portray the dynamics between two different likeable personalities when simultaneously confronted with a crisis. You find yourself rooting for them both in their attempt to work together to marginalize and ultimately cover up this serious predicament that they stumbled upon.
The situation gets even stickier as more guests arrive, couple by couple, each with their own unique chemistry, enhancing the complexity of who to be honest with, leading to some amusing inconsistencies of explanations among the characters and an excellently acted deliberately disproportionate stress placed upon issues that were relatively minor compared to the host having shot himself.
The final couple to arrive is a young politician Glenn and his young wife Cassie (magnificently portrayed by Matthieu Regney and Kristin Gagliardi, respectively.) Cassie believes that Glenn has been unfaithful, while Glenn dismisses the allegations, not with defensiveness, but with a typical slick politician coolness designed to make his detractors look like loons for even suggesting the alleged scandal. Glenn does this so well that the audience becomes unsure as to whether Glenn is a sleaze or Cassie is a loon. Cassie's facial expressions are priceless, depicting her outrage at what she perceives to be Glenn's audacious denial of factual truth.
Actor Duane Lanham, who was fabulous throughout the play, ends up stealing the show, with a long, yet totaling captivating monologue that takes place with the entire cast on stage. His delivery is enhanced by meaningful movement about the stage, some Spanish interwoven among his words, and the high stakes situation under which his character is providing a performance within the performance.
While I should caution the audience that there is a lot of profanity and blasphemy that could have been eliminated without detracting from the believability, humor, flow, or entertainment value of the show, I still conclude that the strong acting, detailed set, humorous storyline, and excellent directing from Scott R. Brill come together to make this a highly recommendable show, which will continue to run at the Ridgefield Theater Barn every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday through March 25.