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Columnist
Metropolis makes the most of unimaginative farce 'Out of Order'
By Barbara Vitello | Daily Herald Columnist

Junior MP Richard Willey (Andrew J. Pond, left) solicits help from his secretary George (Michael B. Woods) when he uncovers a dead body (Kevin Kurasch) in his hotel suite in Metropolis Performing Arts Centre's production of "Out of Order."

 

Secretary George (Michael B. Woods, left) deals with the unconscious Pamela (Lisa Savegnago), while her husband Richard (Andrew J. Pond) deals with a nosy waiter (Chuck Sisson, right).

 

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Published: 1/21/2010 12:25 AM

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"Out of Order"

Two and a half stars

Location: Metropolis Performing Arts Centre, 111 W. Campbell St., Arlington Heights. (847) 577-2121 or metropolisarts.com

Showtimes: 7:30 p.m. Thursdays; 8 p.m. Fridays; 3 and 7 p.m. Saturdays; 4 p.m. Sundays through Feb. 19

Running time: About 2 hours, 10 minutes with intermission

Tickets: $27-$43

Parking: Free parking garage near theater, street parking available

Rating: Brief nudity, adult themes, for teens and older

From mistaken identities and extramarital affairs to pratfalls and slamming doors - and one particularly hazardous window - "Out of Order" incorporates all the elements of a standard bedroom burlesque.

Arlington Heights' Metropolis Performing Arts Centre has demonstrated a knack for this style of comedy in its sparkling 2007 revival of Marc Camoletti's "Don't Dress for Dinner" and last year with a high-spirited production of Ken Ludwig's "Lend Me a Tenor." But while director David Belew and his resolute cast make an admirable attempt, they can't completely compensate for the faulty foundation on which Ray Cooney's refried farce rests.

The main problem with his middling 1991 comedy is the script. Overlong and saddled with ancillary characters, "Out of Order" - about a mid-level, married, minister of parliament's attempted tryst with the young (also married) secretary of his political opponent - lacks the sharp wit and quick tempo that makes a successful farce.

Set in a posh London hotel suite designed by Adam L. Veness, whose attractive, uncluttered set comes with an impressive view of Big Ben, the play centers on junior MP Richard Willey (the unflappable Andrew J. Pond) whose romantic plans go awry when he and his paramour Jane (Sarah Tolan-Mee) uncover a dead body (Kevin Kurasch in a role more physically demanding than one might imagine) in their room.

Anxious to avoid a scandal that could derail his career, not to mention his marriage, Richard summons his put-upon secretary George (a nicely nervous Michael B. Woods, whose spot on impression of painter Edvard Munch's "The Scream" nearly stops the show). Together the men attempt to dump the body and elude Jane's jealous, slightly unhinged husband Ronnie (Patrick Tierney) who arrives at the hotel looking for his wife and the private detective he hired to follow her. The arrival of Richard's wife Pamela (Lisa Savegnago) further complicates the situation, which is alternately helped and hindered by an enterprising waiter (Chuck Sisson), whose assistance comes at a price.

Cooney embraces the conventions of contemporary farce without adding anything to them. His characters cower in closets, canoodle with partners to whom they're not married and routinely misplace their clothes. But it's nothing we haven't seen before. What's more, it's been done more skillfully by the likes of Camoletti and Ludwig.

Having proven its comedic chops, Metropolis deserves a fully functioning farce.

"Out of Order" isn't it.