Guest Column: ‘Bedroom Farce’ lives up to its description
Published 9:51 pm Thursday, April 18, 2019
Stage Right by Angie Zoller Barker
A farce involves “buffoonery, horseplay, crude characterization and ludicrously improbable situations” for comedic effect. It might be obvious to any couple that the bedroom is the perfect setting for a farce, but that’s all that is obvious about the Albert Lea Community Theatre’s performance of “Bedroom Farce.”
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Three full-size beds fill the stage. Just like Goldilocks discovered, each bed has a distinct personality. One looks worn, lived-in but oddly formal — like a bed in your grandmother’s spare room. We’ve all spent the night in it but couldn’t relax against the hard, squeaky box spring. On the opposite end of the stage, the bed is modern and chic, and the down comforter bares a cool paisley pattern. It’s a bed of wealth and privilege. It should be safe and secure but is boring in its appearance of perfection. The middle one is cheap and has mismatched sheets. It’s not a bed that is deserving of the time it would take to make it. It is a bed that is used and abused and unkempt. It is the holdover from college days before crossing the threshold into adulthood. The beds parallel their owners. As Delia says in the opening scene, “You can tell a lot about a person by their bed.”
According to the ACT on Broadway website, “Trevor (Luke Zacharias) and Susannah (Kristi White), whose marriage is on the rocks, inflict their miseries on their nearest and dearest: three couples whose own relationships are tenuous at best. This comedy takes place sequentially in the three beleaguered couples’ bedrooms during one endless Saturday night of co-dependence and dysfunction, beds, tempers and domestic order are ruffled — leading all the players to a hilariously touching epiphany.”
The cast also includes Mark Place and Michelle Supalla as the eldest couple, Ernest and Delia, and parents of Trevor. Logan Petersen and Raquel Hellman are the wealthy couple Nick and Jan. Christy Compton and Kyle Nelson are Kate and Malcolm, who are hosting a housewarming party to celebrate their first home. And it definitely looks like a first home settled between the other two established bedrooms.
We never see the lead couple’s bed. They spend the play in everyone else’s bedroom and often in their beds. Trevor and Susannah are dysfunctional. According to the director Kris Bartley, the couple put the fun in dysfunctional.
The play is a seesaw of verbal quips and physical comedy. It’s one punch after the other, sometimes literally. Trevor and Susannah fight with pillows, toilet plungers and eventually end a scene with them embraced, not in a kiss, but a chokehold. The cast put their bodies on the line for the story and their motto became “no concussions until closing.”
Petersen deserves an award for acting on stage for the entire two-hour performance. He never. Leaves. The. Stage. When he is not in the scene, his job is to be invisible. And he manages it, too. All the cast do an incredible job of melting into the scenery when the attention shifts to another couple or another part of the stage. Not one cough, sneeze or stretch.
The setting is intimate and the stage keeps it even closer. Despite the tight quarters, the characters often have conversations that take place facing away from one another — if conversation is the right word for it. It usually is a couple talking at one another rather than to one another. This happens with all three couples. They all speak, but no one listens. Rinse and repeat. It’s a farce that lives up to its description: buffoonery, horseplay and improbable situations.
As Ernest wisely says, “It’s their bed, they can lie in it.”
“Bedroom Farce” will run April 18-20, 24-27 and 28 at Marion Ross Performing Arts Center on Broadway. Performances begin at 7:30 p.m. with a matinee at 2 p.m. on April 28. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for students and can be purchased at actonbroadway.com.
Angie Zoller Barker is the publications adviser and teaches world literature and writing at Albert Lea High School.