MORRISBURG – So the dictionary defines farce as “a comic work, using buffoonery and horseplay, improbable plots and broad humour.”
This definition scarcely does justice to the staged comic insanity of Upper Canada Playhouse’s outrageous and hilarious new production of the Marcia Kash and Douglas Hughes show, ‘Who’s Under Where?’ The “madness” (as director Donnie Bowes called it) begins immediately in Act I, and the pace and hilarity only increase. Audiences on opening night roared with laughter, and this Playhouse production earned a well-deserved standing ovation.
The plot (?) revolves around the efforts of lingerie designers Jane and Sybil to win a contract for their company (which produces exotic undies and lounge wear for women and men) from international entrepreneur, Bruno Fruferelli of Italy. The deal could be worth some 5 million dollars for these hard-working, ambitious women (whose husbands have cavalierly dismissed their business plans). It’s not been easy to finance such a risky venture. “We’ve lied to our husbands. We’ve drained out bank accounts.” They’ve even gone to the expense of renting an expensive hotel suite, of hiring models to show off their gorgeous designs, and of laying in plenty of champagne as their appointment with Fruferelli and the deal of a life time draws ever nearer. What could go wrong?
Everything. Simply everything.
Suspicious husbands Paul and George have followed a trail of hasty, secret phone calls, depleted bank accounts and wifely lies to the hotel room – only to find it draped with exotic lingerie and stocked with a massive water bed and numerous bottles of champagne. From this point onward, if there is a wrong conclusion to draw, these two will draw it! “We need evidence. We need to catch them red-handed. We need proof.”
When you toss in young, handsome model Sebastian, a flamboyant Italian (“This is wonderful to be in a beautiful room with two beautiful ladies. Let me see your goodies.”) and even a slightly dim-witted hotel security man, you have all necessary ingredients for farce. What follows is masquerades, mixups, lies piled on lies, chaos and confusion all carried out at break neck speed – and all utterly hilarious.
Farce relies on fast-thinking, fast-moving, very talented actors with impeccable timing – and ‘Who’s Under Where?’ director Bowes has assembled seven exceptional (and agile) performers for this production.
Kathleen Egan Veinotte and Alison Lawrence are Sybil and Jane, usually quite sensible women, who just want to prove that they have the right stuff to make it in business – especially to their dismissive husbands. They never dreamed their ‘simple’ deal would drive them to conundrums and conniving. Garfield Andrews (“oh god, I look like Captain Hook in drag!”) and Victor Cornfoot (whose name may now come up wherever fishnet stockings and mannequins are discussed) are their husbands, two men whose suspicions and underhanded spying leads them into twists and entanglements they never expected. Eric Finlayson as model Sebastian is probably the only innocent in the whole play – and that won’t save him, not even from those “MacUndies.” Salvatore Scozzari has a field day in the role of Bruno Fruferelli, the flamboyant business mogul, with a thing for champagne, and mannequin “dolls.” Allan Cooke’s Roger Hodge, Hotel Security, never really does figure out just what is going on in this hotel room or who is actually who. Still he is doggedly determined to arrest ‘Someone’ in all this confusion – and also to locate that six-foot Bugs Bunny running around the kitchens.
The hotel room for this Playhouse production must also come in for a bow. With all the dashing and slamming and crashing about, technical director and set designer, Sean Free has created a single set that is versatile, very attractive and most definitely sturdy. And it’s hard to think of another occasion where a balcony and two large, leafy, potted plants have taken such a pivotal role in a plot!
This production is fast moving, energetic, full of great lines, and simply lots of fun. Don’t miss a chance to treat yourself to laughter and a really good time. Who’s Under Where? runs at Upper Canada Playhouse until July 23.