Larry Haworth, Barb Weaver and Diann Ryan in "They Came from Mars..."

Larry Haworth, Barb Weaver and Diann Ryan in “They Came from Mars…”

They Came From Mars and Landed Outside the Farndale Avenue Church Hall in Time for the Townswomen’s Guild’s Coffee Morning is the full title of The Belfry’s latest offering, directed by Ron Richards. It is, of course, one of the series of “Farndale Avenue” plays written by David McGillivray and Walter Zerlin Jr. which uses the play-within-a-play format as a women’s group of rank amateurs attempt a lame theatrical endeavor.

This is classic English farce and I have not decided if it is a silly play about a bad play or a bad play about a silly play. The script is full of particularly English references and it is quite easy to get lost in some of the “action” if you try too hard to follow along. But the point, I am sure, is not to try very hard – but to let the show roll over you and enjoy the parts which are enjoyable to you and wait out the parts that are not.

Larry Haworth, Barb Weaver and Susan Rardin play within the play.

Larry Haworth, Barb Weaver and Susan Rardin play within the play.

The very able cast of actors, Diann Ryan, Susan Rardin, Larry Haworth, Dana Lesh and Barb Weaver tumble through the lines with a sincere set of attitudes and total commitment to all the silliness involved here. There is nary a wink or a nod to say, “Hey, look at us having a grand time putting you on.” The cast, to their credit, does not put us on, ever – they have totally bought into their inept characters and it certainly has to be the only way to get through it all.

Ms. Ryan is, as always, engaging and assured in her role as Mrs. Reece, who acts as mistress of ceremonies and the Professor Einstein character. Susan Rardin capably recreates her role as Thelma (according to the program bios), who plays two roles as children in the play “within”. Larry Haworth comes through nicely as Gordon, who is assigned the Vicar’s role. Dana Lesh plays the especially inept Felicity role as the Martian with dedicated confusion. And Barb Weaver expertly slumps through most of her role as Norah’s maid/robot having been unintentionally drugged.

Dana Lesh plays a martian in "They Came from Mars..."

Dana Lesh plays a martian in “They Came from Mars…”

This is by no means a thought-provoking play, nor will it ever be broken down and studied in places of higher learning. It is what it is – a silly, English-style comedy which, to my taste, was a bit over the top, although plenty of the other audience members seemed to enjoy it a great deal most of the time. I overheard one audience member telling another: “No, they are trying to be that bad.”

That said – kudos to the cast. It is very difficult for actors (and all of this group are fine actors) to portray such grand ineptitude. All handled the necessary physical comedy well and comic timing was , for the most part, spot-on. The energetic performances given by all helped the cause, as well.

They Came from Mars… continues at The Belfry Feb. 2, 8, 9, 10, 15, 16, and 17 with Fri/Sat performances at 8pm and Sunday performances at 2pm. Call 317-773-1085 for reservations.