The Vexler’s production of Unnecessary Farce isn’t exactly unnecessary, but it’s hard to argue that it’s anything like essential: the play is obviously constructed with an eye towards the needs of community and even high-school theaters, and is unlikely to catapult author Paul Slade Smith into the ranks of first-rate farceurs. The set-up seems promising enough: a police sting in two adjoining hotel rooms allows for an appealing combination of eight doors, four guns, two closets, and six breasts. But for a newly minted sex farce, there’s something awfully square about the subsequent hijinks, as if inspired by such 1980’s television fare as Three’s Company or The Love Boat. The play is strongest when it exploits the possibilities of its smart, mirror-image set (by Ken Frazier), with a few clever scenes running concurrently; otherwise, this is standard stuff.
Matthew Cassi’s cast has certainly got game, but the talent level varies wildly. Morgan Scharff, as a sexpot accountant, reveals her assets in all sorts of senses, while Scott Leibowitz amusingly chews up the scenery as an off-kilter Scotsman (sometimes his kilt is off, too). Other members of the ensemble, however, range from simply fine to distractingly amateurish; this production never matches the polish of the Vexler’s work on the Shaffer/Frayne double-bill a few seasons back.
As a programming choice, the evening remains a puzzle. The Vexler surely has the subscriber base to pull off a farce by established masters like Joe Orton or Alan Ayckbourn, or by a hot new comic playwright like Michael Hollinger. So why stoop to conquer Smith’s Unnecessary Farce? It seems an easy — but hardly necessary — way to fill a comedy slot.
Through Feb 27
7:30pm Thu, 8pm Sat, 2:30pm Sun matinee
Vexler Theater, 12500 NW Military Hwy
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