Neil Simon’s Rumors is a farcical romp centered around four couples who’ve found themselves in quite the predicament at a failed anniversary party. Unfortunately for them, Ken Gorman and Chris Gorman (Richard Yuan and Sophie Coles) are the first to arrive to the home of their never-shown friends, Charlie and Myra. Discovering that Charlie has accidentally shot himself in the ear lobe, they rush around, first trying to keep the secret from the other guests as they arrive but eventually divulging the information and facing one hilarious scenario after the next. There’s nothing of real substance here, aside from a few critiques of high-society and marriage, but it definitely makes for a good time, though Simon’s work does show its age.
Thankfully, the young faces of One Song Productions, an entirely student-run theatre company, breathe some new energy into this old show, helping it to feel a little fresher, a little more enjoyable than it otherwise would.
Directors Isabel Mahon and Joe Davis have perfectly staged this highly-physical comedy. Their characters flail and shuffle in all the right, comedic ways, and they’ve used every inch of the stage, the doors surrounding it, and even the floor and stage stairs to open up the ArtsCenter space and to add more humor where they can. For example, when Cookie Cusak (Emma Roussin) and her bad, spasmic back arrive to the party, she crawls around on all fours, inches down the stage stairs, and then wobbles her way out the door- all comedic gold.
In fact, there’s no shortage of hilarity throughout the whole production. While Roussin makes for a perfectly kooky Cookie, Coles is the perfect Chris. She’s erratic and believably flustered at all the right moments and, despite her young age, effectively portrays an adult woman under stress. She’s nicely matched with Yuan, who delivers his funniest moments after his character is temporarily struck deaf and bumbles through one misunderstanding after another. Henry Schneider also stands out with his smarmy, smooth portrayal of BMW-obsessed, status-obsessed Lenny, nicely tempered by Audrey Royer’s more subtle performance as his wife, Claire.
Funny, fast-paced, and featuring a delightful young cast, this reendition of Rumors feels like an oldie, but a goodie.
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