Room Service

by Stu Brown

“Room Service,” currently running at the Westport Country Playhouse, bills itself as a madcap farce, but the comedy falls way short of zaniness and is more flat than farce.

The plot is simple enough. Down-on-his-luck Broadway producer, Gordon Miller, is desperately trying to land a backer for what he feels will be the next big show on The Great White Way. While the search goes on he, along with his cast and cronies, are living in the hotel managed by his brother-in-law, running up a huge bill. Enter the corporate accountant who wants to evict the whole crew for their unpaid largess. Add in a dim-witted playwright and other assorted characters and the stage is set for the play’s shenanigans and foolishness as it becomes a race in time to sign a money man before the best laid plans unravel.

In the production of Room Service there are the requisite slamming doors, raised voices, and silly set-ups, but they are never elevated to true high jinks. Slamming doors for slamming doors sake doesn’t equate to inspired monkey business. The cast performs well, but they are more acting the parts as opposed to embodying their roles. There’s the occasional laugh or chortle, but they are few and far between.

Ben Steinfeld, as the fast-talking boss-in-chief, has the necessary self-aggrandizing arrogance, but he doesn’t go far enough with the role. The same problem can be said with Richard Ruiz, as the producer’s right hand man, Faker England; Jim Bracchitta as the come-as-it-may director, Harry Binion; and Eric Bryant as the naive, first time playwright, Leo Davis. Only David Beach, as the neurotic hotel manager, Joseph Gribble; and Michael McCormick as the boisterous, single-minded accountant, Gregory Wagner, reach the levels of insanity and silliness that, with the rest of the cast in sync, could produce a truly comical production.

Director Mark Lamos, while doing a good job setting up the various screwball scenes doesn’t ramp up the action enough on stage to bring the comedy to what should be its delirious heights. Keeping two intermissions for a two-hour show is also problematic as it deflated whatever energy the play generated.

Room Service, playing at the Westport County Playhouse through October 27th -- a chuckle here, a laugh there.

 

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