by Patsy Koch Johns
My, my, my what treasure you discover when you journey 40 miles from your own front door. Last night I took a spin to Beatrice, Nebraska to watch their Community Players take the boards in a farce entitled Unnecessary Farce. Fundamentally a farce is for fun only, right? However, this production is fabulously fun and more from lights up to lights down.
An almost full house that appeared to represent a wide range of community members bubbled with their presence and their energy. It was evident that they were truly excited to be there. It rubbed off. The Managing Artistic Director, Jamie Ulmer, opened the show with a farcical approach to what is usually the mundane presentation of needed audience information. The sound crew provided dramatic emphasis with bits of “Law and Order” theme music not only for comic effect , but also to set the stage for the organized crime chaos that was about to ensue. It is obvious that Mr. Ulmer has plenty of talent himself and that his audience has respect for a gentleman who has kept this theatre up and running for many years.
Lights up! All of the technical design and details were in order and creative. The setting is two rooms in a motel with adjoining doors. Speaking of doors there are six doors on this set. They all open and close and SLAM for comic effect and for emphasis. Kudos to the construction crew. All of the entrances and exits were executed flawlessly. Sound and lighting solidly added to our enjoyment. Costumes and props were thoughtfully chosen to make us laugh and they certainly did. Agent Frank in his pink too-tight boxers and green socks was shockingly humorous; Todd, in his exaggerated, unexpected, Scottish apparel elicited a huge response from the receptive audience. All these aspects of spectacle emphasized what I believe are the most important qualities of this performance, the two reasons that I would encourage people, from Beatrice and surrounding areas, to jump in their vehicles and speed to this event.
The direction of this show, credited to Alex Hollman, was superb. He humbly credits his cast with clever collaboration. “As rehearsals progressed these gags grow and evolve as we developed nuances to characters, shared new ideas and insights, and even when funny mistakes happened-mistakes that we decided to repeat every rehearsal!” However, the hand of a talented director creating a visual banquet for the audience is obvious from the start. As an example, the character Eric visiting with the “Chief” on the phone in his underwear, and Agent Brown in underwear preparing to make his move on the innocent ingénue foreshadow impending visual humor. You might gather from this foreshadowing that this is adult material.
Without missing a beat, the performance was directed to lead us to the end of Act I, leaving us anxiously anticipating Act II. I overheard an audience member say as the lights went down on Act I, “The take away in Act II will really have to be something to beat that!” It was. Act II crescendoed to the last second and the final pose of the dauntless, but dubious crime investigators Eric and Billie.
Characterization reigned. There is not one weak link in the development and believability of these “people”. They were created with physical and vocal finesse: Pat Marlatt’s facial expressions; Page Patton’s tumbling; Ashleigh Chantalle Fosbinder’s endearing innocence; Jeff Carrel’s poses; Trevor Kern’s command of the Scottish language. It is worth the ticket price just for the scene with Billie and Todd speaking and translating Scottish. Amazingly hilarious! They are an extraordinary duo, and this cast is a strong ensemble. I would like to box the laughter and make sure it was shared around our area. Since that is not possible call or email Beatrice Community Players at
402-228-1801 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Tickets are also available online at their website.
The show’s remaining run is on August 31st through September 2nd.
It is necessary to see Unnecessary Farce. Don’t miss it.
Patsy Koch John’s career spans 40 plus years of directing, acting, and teaching of Theatre experience. She also spends time advocating for students, teachers, and educational issues included, but not limited to the Arts in Education. Presently she is serving on the Nebraska State School Board, as the President of Nebraskans for the Arts, and on boards of the Nebraska Speech Communication and Theatre Association, and the Angels Theatre Company. She continues to work with students and adults directing and enjoying the Arts.