Normally, I review plays the opening weekend of a production, but I didn’t get a chance to see Studio Players’ season closing comedy, Out of Order, by Ray Cooney, until it was well into the second week of its run.
It reminded me that seeing a show that’s been on its feet a while is a unique experience, enjoyable for different reasons. The opening weekend buzz in the air is replaced with the contagious fun of a cast who has found their comfort zone with the material and each other.
Ray Cooney’s totally silly, farcical plot kicks off to a wildly funny start when a conservative member of British Parliament’s plans to have an affair go wildly awry after finding a dead body in the window of his hotel room. Then, of course, the inevitable hijinks ensue, which kept last weekend’s sold-out Saturday night crowd laughing throughout.
Timothy Hull makes his directorial debut in this side-splitting comedy with a cast of veteran players who milk every absurd situation for maximum laughs.
Take Jason Meenach. His portrayal of the bumbling government official Richard Willey is satisfyingly awkward, desperate and of course, funny, as he concocts lie after lie to cover his tracks. Eric Seale makes the most of his supporting role as the stuffy, overly efficient manager of the hotel where Willey is staying; some his funniest moments are conveyed with a mere smirk or arch of the eyebrow.
Terry Withers portrays the hotel’s wait staff with increasingly gleeful joy at the protagonists’ mishaps. David Alan Clark’s portrayal of Willey’s downtrodden personal secretary ups the ante on comic awkwardness. Zachary Dearing roars on stage as jealous husband Ronnie, one of the evening’s most well-drawn characters. Sharon Sikorski and Megan Mooney deliver bright, snappy performances as Willey’s wife and potential mistress, respectively.
Tom Johnson, Carley Bartlett and Aly Miller round out the cast with spirited supporting performances.
Many of the actors in the cast have worked together before and are regulars on the Lexington stage. By the time I saw them on the second Saturday of the run, they had found their stride as an ensemble, clearly having fun while also bringing their absurd characters and situations to life.
Hull, a veteran actor himself, has created a show that allows the actors to sink their teeth into Cooney’s madcap script. Hull particularly excels at creating memorable, humorous tableaus and sight gags, which sparked as much, if not more, laughter than Cooney’s lines during the show I attended.
A fitting end to the season, Out of Order is yet another instance of Studio Players doing what it does best: giving audiences an escape from their everyday lives with heady doses of humor.
Candace Chaney is a Lexington-based writer and critic.