Rumors By Neil Simon
Directed by Tim DeBaun
Starring Jamie-Lynn Markos, Chris Prueitt, Vera Varlamov, and Daniel Cooksley
Theatre Downtown, Orlando FL

If everyone did the right, rational thing, we would have no horror movies ad no Neil Simon comedies. Tonight’s the tenth anniversary of Charlie and Myra Brock’s marriage, but the party is off to a weak start. The maid and the cook left the food is thawing in the kitchen and decamped to unknown parts, Charlie has a bullet hole in his ear, Myra is missing but worst of all: there is no ice. As guests dribble in, Chris (Markos) and Ken Gorman (Prueitt) struggle with an existential dilemma: Should they pretend the Brocks are still getting dressed, or admit there’s blood all over the bedroom and there’s no real chance of ice arriving? Well, the truth is never THAT funny, so we follow each arriving couple as they go through their own voyage of discovery. There’s plenty of yelling, Claire and Lenny Ganz (Varlamov and Cooksley) are next; he’s just wrecked a band new car and now “has the whip lash.” If Chris and Ken are the voice of preserving appearances at all costs, this pair is more a set of tough love realists. Ernie and Cookie Cusack (Rochelle Wheeler and Larry Stallings) pop in next, they are the broader comedians. She has back spasms and a dress so hideous is caused a revolution in the USSR, and he gets the really brilliant lines: “I’d stay but my wife is bleeding”, “The spaghetti is boiling but the duck is still frozen” and my all-time favorite Larry Stallings line “Fuck-a-rini.” Lastly the Coopers arrive (Jackie Prutsman and Scott Browning) he has hopes for the NY State Senate, and a blood stained room won’t help that cause that any more than an angry wife who caught him cheating.

The comedy is fast and furious, sometimes spinning on word play, sometimes on missed perceptions, sometimes on door slamming farce, but always touching back to the need for the well-to-do to paper over their inner children. It’s all bizarre circumstance piles on even more chancy sequence of unfortunate events and a rational Gorman couple would have told the visitors to go home, taken Charley to the Emergency Room, and put the food back in the freezer. But they didn’t, and thus we have one of the funniest comedies of Theatre Downtown’s storied career. The set glows, the half dozen doors slam, and the audience laughs. How can they be so heartless when a man has lost his wife, his earlobe, and has to take his liquor neat and at room temperature?

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