By Sheri Berger
Farce of Nature, Beatrice Community Players, Friday, September 29, 2023
A dedicated cast of nine actors take on this hilarious farce set in a lodge called “Reel ‘Em Inn” located in rural Arkansas, sometimes mistaken for Mississippi by some of the characters in this play. If you like a farce to enjoy with popcorn and soda and a side of one-line zingers, then this is for you.
Lodge owners D. Gene and Wanelle Wilburn, played by Callan Williams and Dr. Renae Koehler respectively play a couple who have been together over 30 years and D. G appears to have lost that lovin’ feeling with his wife. The only thing that seems to trip his trigger is fishing. Renae and Callan have wonderful comedic timing together. Their son, Ty Wilburn, enthusiastically played by Mason Gustafson, is lovelorn and trying to win back the heart of his girlfriend. Jenna Sealy, played by Maria Lemus-Piccolo is his self-taught artist girlfriend who likes to let loose and enjoy a good foot massage.
And what small town doesn’t have your local friendly law enforcement? Diane Kahnk masterfully plays the security guard and former police force member, Macine Wilburn Suggs. She is also the sister of D. Gene and is well known all over town for her baking skills and secret recipes. Diane’s character is central to the comedy of this story and she doesn’t disappoint in this show.
All of this is a good basis of farcical drama already, however the writer, Jones Hope Wooten, throws in a citified crime family to add to the mix, as well as some wild animals, including the black bear which apparently makes Arkansas its home. That was a new factoid I learned for this review! The set is cozy and immense as it has to be in order to stage all of the actors often at the same time.
Chicago crime family patriarch Sonny Barbosa, played by Steve Martin, goes looking for the nephew who ratted him out and also finds his beautiful wife Lola Barbosa, wonderfully played by Jean Spilker. His nephew, Carmine DeLuca, played by Connor Tietz, finds himself in the middle of all of the drama, and has little faith in his witness protection program with Maxine as his bodyguard.
And last but not least, MJ Harvey does a great job with the physicalness of playing Roxane Thorne, the real estate developer who is almost mauled by wild animals.
This is a fun comedy with a lot going on on-stage. This ensemble keeps the pace moving and I could see places where the actors were emotionally supporting each other which always makes me smile. All of the elements are there for chaos, mistaken identity, unconvincing disguises, secrets, and randomly odd and physical situations. All of the actors have a heavy-lift of lines, and the physical comedy of this sitcom-style play makes it fast-action and fun to watch, so I won’t give too much away so you can go see it and see this farcical play!
This play was directed by Tyler J. Rinne who also did the sound design and scenic design, Stage Manager by Sawyer Crumrine, Assistant Stage Manager MJ Harvey, Lighting Design by Brandon Clark, and Costume Design by Lindsay Armstrong.
If you go: Farce of Nature runs September 29, 30, October 1, 6, 7, and 8. Friday and Saturday at 7:30PM and Sundays at 2PM. Ticket information at https://www.beatricecommunityplayers.com.
Sheri Berger is a business minion, dog momma, arts groupie, and co-host of the Platte River Bard Podcast with her husband, Chris Berger.
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