Sunday, January 21, 2018
Stage

Review: Despite flaws, plenty of guffaws in Stage West's 'A Bedfull of Foreigners'

Probably the most vexing decision the director of a play set in a foreign country must make is what to do about accents.

Should Shakespeare be done in Elizabethan English? Should everyone in A Little Night Music have a Swedish accent? Should Fiddler on the Roof be done with Russian enunciation? What about any Ray Cooney English farce?

Kathy Capelle, the director of A Bedfull of Foreigners, playing weekends through Sunday at Stage West Community Playhouse in Spring Hill, had an even more daunting task. Bedfull is set in a small French hotel near the German border, with guests and employees from England, France and, perhaps, Hungary or Mexico. Accents could come from all over the map. And that, indeed, is what they did, including from the plain ol' U.S. of A. It wouldn't be disconcerting, except that some of the players switched back and forth throughout the production on opening night.

But that isn't the only problem with this frothy bedroom farce. Playwright Dave Freeman provides an inherently funny situation — the last room at the rundown hotel is accidentally double booked, once to middle-class English couple Brenda (Dee Curran) and Stanley (Tom Venable) and then to philandering traveling biscuit (that's cookies to us locals) seller Claude (Jim Hansen). The room-sharing might have worked out, except that Claude has invited his sexy French mistress, Simone (Cheryl Roberts), to come along for some hanky-panky, and his strong-willed wife, Helga (Jeanene MacLean), decides to show up to help hubby celebrate his birthday.

Such a setup! — especially when you add an amorous hotel owner/manager, Heinz (Sam Petricone), and a tipsy handyman/porter, Karak (Dalton Benson).

As in most good comedy/farces, there are close encounters, as the participants barely miss seeing each other; doors open, stick and slam, and all of the guilty parties try to fib their way out of a mess.

There isn't a lot of substance. So, to make this show work best takes a lot of physical humor, sight gags and over-the-top playing. Benson and Petricone really get that, Benson with terrific facial expressions, perfect comic timing and a consistently inconsistent accent (that's part of his character), and Petricone, with sweeping gestures and bombastic exclamations.

The rest of the cast members have their moments — Roberts' Simone in comedic pratfalls, lewd dancing and one terrific sight gag; MacLean's Helga, as an overly enthusiastic nurse and sex-starved, misunderstood wife; Venable's Stanley, as an eager, accidental adulterer, though we do wish he would speak out so we don't miss his best lines; Hansen's Claude, as the not-really-all-that-uptight Englishman, and Curran's befuddled Brenda.

But the timing and pacing of the entire show drags, with too much hesitation in the delivery of the dialogue. This show needs to tighten up and keep 'er going in order to keep the audience alert and involved. Those lines should come machine-gun fast, with handyman Karak providing the slower, more deliberate moments to let us catch our breath and enjoy some languid laughs.

That said, this Bedfull may not be laugh-a-minute, but there are enough good guffaws to make the show worth seeing.

Comments
Orchestra sets off fireworks in the brassy ‘Sinfonietta’

Orchestra sets off fireworks in the brassy ‘Sinfonietta’

TAMPA — Many times during Sinfonietta, Leoš Janácek’s notoriously difficult but joyous work, it was impossible for a regular patron of the Florida Orchestra to escape this observation: They have never sounded quite like this.This isn’t to say musicia...
Published: 01/20/18
‘Mike Hammer - Encore for Murder’ serves up hard-boiled 1950s fare with a healthy side of wit

‘Mike Hammer - Encore for Murder’ serves up hard-boiled 1950s fare with a healthy side of wit

CLEARWATER — From the moment the title character takes center stage, Mike Hammer — Encore for Murder is sold. Rarely does one actor own an entire production the way Gary Sandy owns this world premiere, and it’s a pleasure at watch, in large measure t...
Published: 01/19/18
Inside American Stage’s plan to offer free or reduced admission to young people

Inside American Stage’s plan to offer free or reduced admission to young people

ST. PETERSBURG An air compressor did most of the talking as the small crew stapled down flooring to the stage. A master carpenter kept unskilled but eager workers on track, telling them where to line up edges. An astringent smell of glue permeated t...
Published: 01/18/18
What’s on stage this week: Riverdance, ‘Mike Hammer,’ ‘The Tempest’

What’s on stage this week: Riverdance, ‘Mike Hammer,’ ‘The Tempest’

RIVERDANCE AT 20: CIARA SEXTONShe’s a former world champion in Irish dance, and now Ciara Sexton, center, is leading Riverdance in Tampa. A lead dancer and soloist with the troupe, Sexton said she has felt comfortable touring the states."What really ...
Published: 01/17/18
Steve Martin and Martin Short talk touring together and ‘newfangled old-fashioned’ variety show

Steve Martin and Martin Short talk touring together and ‘newfangled old-fashioned’ variety show

It’s barely been a year since Steve Martin and Martin Short last brought their roadshow to town. But there was never a doubt in their minds they’d be back."We thought — and I seriously mean this — we’ve got to play Florida more." Martin said in a pho...
Published: 01/17/18
Tampa Rep’s ‘Gnit’ is a sharp commentary on narcissism in the age of selfies

Tampa Rep’s ‘Gnit’ is a sharp commentary on narcissism in the age of selfies

By JULIE GARISTOTimes CorrespondentTAMPA — Tampa Repertory Theatre’s Gnit strikes gold for theatergoers who appreciate deadpan wit, clever wordplay and incisive commentary on the human condition.First produced in 2013, the retread of a Scandinavian c...
Published: 01/16/18
Review: Show Palace’s Pippin daring and dangerous

Review: Show Palace’s Pippin daring and dangerous

HUDSON —If you saw the musical Pippin when it first hit Broadway in 1972, or a high school drama club version, or even a touring company rendition a decade ago, it’s not exactly the Pippin you’ll see if you’re wise enough to go see the spectacular mo...
Published: 01/15/18
Updated: 01/18/18
Review: Richey Suncoast’s I Hate Hamlet worth shouting about

Review: Richey Suncoast’s I Hate Hamlet worth shouting about

NEW PORT RICHEY — Many years ago I lived near New Orleans, and one of my favorite pastimes was to put my son in his stroller and saunter up and down the streets of the Vieux Carre.But Bourbon Street in the late afternoon was our favorite. Back then, ...
Published: 01/15/18
Updated: 01/18/18
A play about Miami’s Cocaine Cowboys is becoming a reality

A play about Miami’s Cocaine Cowboys is becoming a reality

MIAMI — The idea seemed outlandish, maybe even impossible at the time: a one-man play about Miami’s infamous Cocaine Cowboys of the 1980s. Some 15 years ago, the Miami-raised Billy Corben was deep into research for what would become Coca...
Published: 01/15/18
Updated: 01/16/18
With Zev Buffman at the creative end, Ruth Eckerd Hall brings Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer to the stage

With Zev Buffman at the creative end, Ruth Eckerd Hall brings Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer to the stage

An actor famous for playing a radio station manager will star this week in the world premiere of a radio play.Mike Hammer: Encore for Murder brings Gary Sandy, who played Andy Travis on WKRP in Cincinnati, to Ruth Eckerd Hall. And the star power was ...
Published: 01/12/18
Updated: 01/13/18