BWW Review: RUMORS at The Barn Players
It's a "why'd they dunnit" almost-murder-mystery party that has more twists and turns than a soap opera on TV, as Neil Simon's farce, RUMORS, takes center stage in KC.
The Barn Players (winner of BroadwayWorld Regional Theatre awards) invites you to the home of Charlie and Myra Brock who are celebrating their 10-year wedding anniversary, but everything goes wrong before the first guests even arrive.
Directed by the fabulous Bill Pelletier, the play starts as Ken and Chris Gorman (Trevor Belt and Rachael Redler) are frantically running around their friends' home trying get ahold of a doctor and to figure out what happened when they got out of their car and heard a gunshot within the house. When Ken realizes that the gunshot only caused a superficial wound in Charlie's ear, he persuades his wife not to tell the doctor that it was a gun in order to save his friend, the Deputy Mayor of New York, the controversy of a suicide scandal, and instead start to concoct the first of many cover-up stories.
This story proves harder to keep up with when two more guests arrive. Lenny and Claire Ganz (Terry Erbe and Victoria Hoffman) had troubles of their own getting to the party when their brand-new BMW was trashed in a hit-and-run accident. When they are told that the host and hostess are oddly still getting dressed and then realize that the food is out on the counter, but still frozen because there is no help, the Gorman's are forced to tell them the truth. As hysterical as Lenny is about his friend's turmoil, he eventually concedes and agrees not to involve the police just yet. Him and his wife lament about the affair rumors that are swirling around their tennis club.
Trying to keep the story from Ernie and Cookie Cusack (Doug Ford and Dee Dee Diemer) is a little easier as the couple is a little on the older and more gullible side, and while they question Chris and Claire's story, they ultimately come to accept it. It isn't until Glenn and Cassie Cooper (Peter Leondedis and Larissa Briley), the last of the guest, arrive with their martial troubles that things really get out of hand. Eventually the cops (Max C. DeShon and Nora Dooley) come to the house to talk to the Ganz's about their accident, but because everyone's nerves are so high eventually a whole new tale is made up about what happened; however, a twist at the end makes us wonder how much of that tale was actually made up.
The entire cast, with the help of fantastic one-liners from Simon, had the audience roaring in their seats. Even watching the audience, the laughter wasn't a generous chuckle; it was full-on knee slapping, belly laughter. Each one of the cast's comedic timing was impeccable. They were not afraid to cut each other off or invade personal space to give the audience the full effect of the humor. At times, I forgot I was watching a play, where people were directed to interact with each other, and instead was intruding in on a real-life event. Every actor has multiple credits to their name, and it shows, as I hesitate to call this an amateur production.
The sets especially were not of your typical amateur quality. Bill Wright transformed the stage into the interior of the Brock home complete with furnishings from Pier 1 Imports. It really did look like a home you would find in the late 80's-early 90's, and just helped to make the audience dive right into the play.
RUMORS plays at The Barn through the 18th. There is a lot of language, so viewer discretion is advised, but go, seriously, if you want a good laugh, run to your computer and go to www.thebarnplayers.org for tickets.