The Defiance Theater Company has another success on hand with the production of Rumors.
This show offers gags, giggles, and belly laughs galore. The wonderful ensemble cast has mastered the timing and rhythm that Mr. Simon had hoped for when he wrote this play in the 1990’s. It is a fun filled time at the Whitmore-Lindley Theater Center on Magnolia in NoHo.
When friends are invited to a colleague’s home for a 10th wedding anniversary party the mayhem begins. Where are Charlie and his lovely wife Mayra? Why is the help not preparing another delicious spread? What’s happening? The audience comes to find out that Deputy Mayor Charlie accidentally shot himself in the earlobe and is hiding upstairs. The first arriving couple, his lawyer Ken and wife Claire, try desperately to conceal the truth from the other invited guests. It must be kept secret; no rumors about such an important man can ever get out. It has to be hushed. Despite their efforts what unfolds for the next two hours are characters in a well-timed chaos of ridiculousness with snappy lines and over the top accusations.
As rumors fly around the room and other couples start arriving, the story heightens regarding the missing hosts.
Enter Lenny and his lovely wife Claire. Lenny is the nervous type. He is loud, animated and upset about his new BMW getting into an accident on the way to the party. Claire seems disinterested in anything about Lenny except for the rumors she hears from her gossipy girl pals. When the rest of the couples finally make their debut, it is sophisticated slapstick. Between burnt fingers, to suspicious police at the door, everyone is suspect and everyone is hiding something. This play is timeless despite the references to the yellow pages and usage of a landline to make phone calls. Just because it was written a few decades ago the ability to thoroughly enjoy this show is not hindered.
The cast is almost flawless in its delivery of this farce.
It is rewarding to see actors sharing in dual delight with the audience. The comical verbal jabs become elevated when they eventually all become part of the game that hides the truth about the shooting. The direction of Paul Storiale proves that to effectively accomplish over the top mayhem while telling a story is a special talent. Although many characters vie for attention within a relatively small space, it doesn’t feel confined. The staging is perfect and probably close to the original intention of Mr. Simon. Several actors are squeezed into a living room where movement and gestures camouflage the small size of the stage. Each seasoned performer works seamlessly to enhance movements and language to make the characters come alive. Every performer in this ensemble are pros. Stephanie Jones (Chris) and Paul Thomas Arnold have worked together before with the director and it shows how well matched they are with each other as well. Brian Allman (Lenny) might have had the most difficult role here. He has long monologues, big gestures and many boisterous statements. He does this well. Stefanie Jones (Chris) is not a dumb blonde and has a real flair for comedy. She also has worked with Mr. Storiale several times before and shares in the hilarity and enthusiasm that makes Rumors work.
Rumors is now showing through April 2nd at the Whitmore-Lindley Theater Center, 11006 Magnolia Blvd. North Hollywood 91601.
For tickets call: 818 761-0704, whitemorelindleytheatercenter.com