BWW Review: RUMORS Leaves Audience in Stitches at Hat Trick Theatre
Before I go into what an incredible, hysterical ensemble cast and crew Hat Trick Theatre's Rumors featured, I must first call out and compliment Maxx Janeda for his sensational second act monologue that left me taking deep breaths to make up for the breath he didn't use. This man deserves a gold oxygen tank.
Gifted with a beautiful set, perfect lighting, sound, and costumes, this cast gave a snort-out-loud performance (yes, it supersedes laugh-out-loud and yes, I snorted) for a ludicrous series of events that happen to eight innocent partygoers at the wedding anniversary celebration in Neil Simon's Rumors. The suicidal and thankfully bad-aiming Deputy Mayor of NYC Charlie shot himself through the earlobe and is recovering in bed while Myra, his wife of ten years, is MIA. The food is ready to prep, but the party staff is nowhere to be found.
"Rumors" offers palpable, infectious energy of its ensemble cast. Never a dull moment, the fast-paced, witty dialogue paired with the constant movement of the cast is executed flawlessly. The speed and flow of the conversations didn't give us, the audience, even a moment to recover before another insane zinger flew. You don't have time to laugh at one before they spout out a dozen more.
The title of this play makes perfect sense. Nearly everything that happens over two hours begins with rumors of affairs that we learn about as the eccentric guests show up for the celebration at Charlie's house.
Ken (Ryan Bernier) is at the center of the story, upstairs as Charlie's panicked lawyer, trying to keep the other partygoers from knowing the truth about what happened. His wife Chris (Kara Goldberg) is downstairs, the reluctant accomplice who very obviously doesn't fair well during stressful situations. She reveals as the night goes by, she's picked the wrong time to stop smoking. Ryan and Kara were completely authentic as anxious husband and wife trying to keep their wits about them. The comic timing of this duo was reminiscent of vaudeville days. The phone scene with the doctor had me in stitches. Ryan's deafness and Kara's imbibing was another hilarious moment in this well-oiled machine. Who knew going deaf and getting drunk can be so entertaining?
As the guest list grows more substantial, the story Ken tells the guests to protect his client grows more ridiculous, but the fallacies eventually are exposed in slapstick fashion.
Lenny (Maxx Janeda) and socialite Claire Ganz (Erica Garraffa), arrive next, already frazzled, having been in a car accident in Lenny's brand new BMW sporting a few miles and now, a damaged door panel. Suffering whiplash and very hungry, Lenny wrestles with a bag of chips, getting more and more frustrated. "The door of my BMW is like tissue paper. This thing is steel." (I paraphrase.) Max and Erica have the ability to look so comfortable, like TV-sitcom-comfortable, in these crazy roles, playing off each other like they've been married for years.
The next to arrive is Charlie's therapist Ernie (Paul McColgan) and his TV chef wife Cookie (Bianca Badia), though Kooky would have fit too. Despite the couples stretch and hand kiss being the oddest thing I've ever seen, it seemed natural and romantic to the two. Paul's forgetting he had burnt fingers and Bianca's upside down stretches were comedy gold.
Final on the scene was the toxic couple, a senator-wannabe Glenn Cooper (Matthew Dykstra) and his crystal-rubbing, high-maintenance wife Cassie, played to irritable snooty perfection by Louisa Pastorius. Both Matthew and Louisa made excellent sparring partners. "You're running for State Senate," Lenny quips. "I wouldn't let you run for Chinese food."
When the cops arrive and start asking questions, Nathan Juliano, as Officer Welch and Heather Lyn Mackey as Officer Pudney, make an impressive team. Nathan is an imposing authoritative figure, and while Heather didn't have a lot of lines, her facial expressions spoke volumes.
This is mishaps, mayhem, slapstick, and shtick at its finest, and the impossible ending was simply the icing on the cake and left me with even more unanswered questions. It was definitely a fun night delightfully served by an exceptional cast.