DC Theatre Scene: UNNECESSARY FARCE

The performers make the most of it. The characters who are supposed to engage our sympathy — [Noah] Schaefer as Eric and [Jenna] Lawrence as Billie — eventually do so, notwithstanding that their characters appear to have the IQs of toasters. (Lawrence does an outstanding bit where she rapidly translates the hit man’s incomprehensible Scottish burr; it leaves the audience in stitches and will affect you the same way, I’ll warrant). [Mario] Baldessari, who has charmed audiences for years doing exactly the sort of character he plays here, does it again as the Mayor. [Emily] Levey succeeds in creating a character who embodies two words seldom seen next to each other: sexy accountant. [Christopher] Herring and [Jon] Townson keep their evil characters safely on the ridiculous side of the ridiculous/terrifying divide, thus keeping Unnecessary Farce from becoming that theatrical unicorn, the thriller-farce.

Most importantly in a farce, the trains run on time. If a door is to open at exactly the right second necessary to knock a bad guy (or a good guy — this is an equal-opportunity farce) out on his back, it does. If the mayor or his sweet wife is to wander in at exactly the right moment when an act of attempted murder appears identical to the act of love, he does. If the characters in one room of Matthew J. Keenan’s sturdy two-room set are to utter exactly the same words as the characters in the other, in wildly different contexts (think of the varied uses of the phrase “oh, God”), they do. [Director] Ray Ficca, a master of physical comedy both as an actor and director, plays his hand impeccably here.

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