Some advertisements and reviews of past productions of Peter Ackerman’s 1999 comedy of post-coital misunderstanding, Things You Shouldn’t Say Past Midnight, currently playing at the Keegan Theatre, have described it as a “bedroom farce,” bringing to mind one of those contraptions with seven doors, disguises, mistaken identities, multiple quick entrances and exits, and cardboard characters, in which, despite scripts stuffed with coy sexual innuendo, no one actually winds up in bed with anyone. Michael Frayn sent up the genre brilliantly in Noises Off.
Fortunately, that description does not actually apply to Things You Shouldn’t Say Past Midnight. True, it does take place mostly in bedrooms — three of them, in fact — in which Ackerman’s quirky sextet of characters does get to enjoy a good deal of horizontal recreation. The ensemble cast delivers not only one well-conceived laugh line after another but also highly satisfying character development along the way. Each of the actors creates a vivid, individual portrait.
Each of the three pairs of actors creates a believable couple dynamic and all succeed in the key task of being funny by ensuring that their characters take themselves perfectly seriously. The actors and director Colin Smith keep the rapid-fire lines fluid and perfectly timed, never letting the comic momentum flag.
[Michael] Innocenti’s set is simplicity itself, as befits a show that began life off-Broadway: three bedrooms, spaced across the stage at slightly different height levels. Allen Sean Weeks’ lighting design provides the area lighting necessary for the transitions from one bedroom to another. Kelly Peacock’s costumes fit the time of night and the varying moods resident in three bedrooms, with the contrast between Gene’s conservative pajamas and Grace’s racier nightwear being especially fun.