The cast of “Out of Order” includes, seated, from left, Barbara Anthony, Toby Manion, Ian MacCallum and Jennifer Sloane; standing, Fred Foster, Ron Rotondo, Rhiannon Mooney and Michael Crockett; and, on the floor, Rick Kastel.
CLEARWATER – Ed Fletcher’s Early Bird Dinner Theatre knows how to stage a farce, and the current production of Ray Cooney’s “Out of Order” is no exception. “Out of Order” continues through Sunday, Feb.24.
Performances are Thursday through Sunday, with seating at 4 p.m. Matinees are Thursday and Saturday, with seating at 11 a.m.
Cooney, an English playwright known as the “master of farce,” selected scandal as subject matter. Set in London during Margaret Thatcher’s time in office, the play begins as Parliamentary junior minister Richard Willey prepares for a wee tryst with Jane Worthington, a government secretary employed by the opposition party.
Before Willey and Worthington get very far, the discovery of a body in the window sets off a series of increasingly hilarious happenings as the scheming junior minister tries to cover up the whole affair. He begins by exploiting the benevolence of his panicky private secretary, George Pigden, whose reluctant assistance ultimately frustrates matters.
All of the action takes place in Room 648 – and on the balcony just outside the faulty window.
Toby Manion, seen most recently in the theater’s production of “Never Kiss a Naughty Nanny,” portrays Willey, successfully accentuating the character’s compounding hysteria as things spiral out of control.
Pigden is played by Ian MacCallum, also seen recently in Early Bird’s “Never Kiss a Naughty Nanny.” He embellishes the downtrodden character with a concrete sense of gleeful gracelessness and comical consternation.
Newcomers Rhiannon Mooney (Worthington) and Ron Rotondo (Ronnie) show off their stage skills, keeping up with the fast-paced action in this farce and delivering double entendres with impeccable timing. Rotondo’s over-the-top whimpering as the cuckolded husband left the audience rippling with uproarious laughter.
Michael Crockett plays the pretentious hotel manager that always arrives at the most inopportune moment. Fred Foster cleverly restrains himself in his interpretation of the ambitious waiter who makes the most of the situation, playing the role with calculated slothfulness to highlight the waiter’s craftiness.
The only hitch in the action at a recent preview was the stubborn window, which obstinately failed to fail in a timely manner at certain specific moments. Director Robin New, who is sharing the role of stage manager with Tracy Borgatti, will undoubtedly see to it that the window works – or malfunctions – as it should.
Tickets are $29.90 plus tax. Cost includes musical entertainment, dinner and the show.
The Early Bird Dinner Theatre will continue its season with another Cooney farce, “Run for Your Wife,” opening Feb. 28 and playing through April 20. The comedy “Rich is Better” will run from April 24 through June 15.