Unnecessary Farce- logo

Once again, I am unable to review one of the area’s current shows – for good reason, because I play a role in it. So, my good friend Adam Crowe has taken the job of reviewing Unnecessary Farce for us.

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Ken is onstage – and that means I get to drop in and tell you all what he’s up to!!

I have been around Theater long enough to know that musicals usually sell better than plays, and new plays can be the hardest sell of all. Without a recognizable name or author, new plays can have trouble gaining traction. That said, a good script will always rise to the top. A perfect example is onstage now at the Studio Theater at the Center for the Performing Arts , where Actor’s Theater of Indiana (“ATI”) is presenting Paul Slade Smith’s Unnecessary Farce.

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Agent Frank (Scott Russell, left) encounters Eric Sheridan (Scot Greenwell) and Karen Brown (Leah Brenner) in a scene from ATI’s “Unnecessary Farce”.

ATI has presented some breathtaking musicals this season, but the Central Indiana premier of Smith’s ridiculously funny comedy is a perfect end to any theatrical season. The author assembles the essential elements of great farce – multiple characters and multiple doors – and sets them loose with secrets, misunderstandings, mistaken identities, and the timing of a swiss watch. An actor himself, the playwright knows not to spend time with deep character development or too much realism. Farces need to get wound up in the first scene and then fly. Unnecessary Farce soars!

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Mayor Meekly (Ken Klingenmeier, right) walks in on some of the mayhem occurring with Agent Frank (Scott Russell, left) and Eric Sheridan (Scot Greenwell) in a scene from ATI’s “Unnecessary Farce”

Director Darrin Murrell (who has been onstage with ATI in My Fair Lady and The Odd Couple) assembles a terrific cast and puts them through their paces, without missing a beat. Ken Klingenmeier plays a Mayor who is the subject of a sting operation run by police officers Scot Greenwell and Jenny Reber. These three are joined by various other characters, all of whom combine to bring the story and the comedy to a perfect boil. Scott Russell, Leah Brenner, Roger Ortman, and Vickie Cornelius Phipps (as a security agent, an accountant, a dangerous Scotsman and the Mayor’s wife, respectively) round out the cast. I will not spoil the fun by telling you how all these folks collide. Suffice it to say, every actor onstage is at the top of their game and the situations that arise as the story unfolds elicit the single most important ingredient to any farce – an audience in stitches!

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Officer Billie Dwyer (Jenny Reber, left) explains her unusual weapon to Agent Frank (Scott Russell) and Todd (Roger Ortman) in ATI’s “Unnecessary Farce”.

Bernard Killian’s set design is pitch perfect, as are the costumes by Donna Jacobi. Marciel Irene Greene designed the lighting and Jonathan Parke the sound and both elements are up to the challenge of keeping track of seven frantic and very busy actors.

A successful farce combines quirky characters and situations with continually rising stakes, keeping the action moving as the situations get constantly crazier (and funnier). Unnecessary Farce may be a “new” play, but it skillfully combines comic situations and ploys that have entertained audiences for as long as theater has existed. ATI has chosen (and cast) wisely. You would be equally wise to get your tickets soon. A show this funny will sell out quickly.

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Mary Meekly (Vickie Cornelius Phipps, left) is looking for her husband in a scene with Agent Frank (Scott Russell) in ATI’s “Unnecessary Farce”

Unnecessary Farce runs through May 15th at the Studio Theater at The Center for the Performing Arts in Carmel. Ticket information at www.atistage.org or call (317) 843-3800.

  • – Show photos by Zach Rosing
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