Friday, June 08, 2012

Review: "Old Ringers" @ Paper Wing Theatre Co.

The current production of Old Ringers at the Paper Wing Theater in Monterey was written by Joseph Simonelli, directed by Katie Burmaster, and was billed as a Neil Simon style comedy. Thus I arrived at the theater with high expectations.

The set revealed a 1960s style apartment somewhere in New Jersey with Amanda the daughter (Kelly Machado) working on a laptop computer, which was the first of the series of incongruities. Amanda was talking to her mother, Diane (Andrea MacDonald), who was in another room but unfortunately Amanda's voice was low enough to entirely miss her first two or three sentences. 

My first indication that there were philosophical differences between mother and daughter was the subsequent arrival of three of mom’s old friends. While the older women discussed their current financial plight Amanda found spaces in the conversation to lecture them about the evils of drink and sex.

When Diane receives a call requesting phone sex the idea of supplementing their income by providing this obviously needed service took root. All four women, Diane; Verna (Suzanne Alvin) the only one of the group who showed a glimmer of a promiscuous past; Kathy-Anne (Linda Dale) whose struggle to cover up with her raincoat provided the only true comedic moment; and Rose (Kira Gray) participating in providing this service, even including Harry (Richard Mueller), Diane’s current physical interest, whose role consisted of potentially servicing a gay clientele.

The title of the show indicated that all four of these women had, somewhere in their history, worked in burlesque. But the costumes did not match those expectations. There were no feathers, no garish earrings, and no boa in sight. Incoming calls were transferred from a princess phone to cell phones creating even greater confusion as to timelines.

Officer Rumson (Jay DeVine), Amanda's current romantic target, saved the day by collecting all cell phones and offering to find jobs for the would be soiled doves.

The overall comedic aspect was lost in part by the fumbling of lines and a feeling that the show had not received adequate rehearsal time. The constant movement of five or more people on stage at the same time screamed for better blocking and the set called for much greater research. 

Perhaps with a few more shows under their boas and the redefining of the space and electronic props this show will be able to present the easily identifiable comedy intended by the playwright and cast.

-Sam Sebastian

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