A BEDFULL OF FOREIGNERS, Drury Lane Dinner Theatre. Thanks to the shoddy work of Jerry Lewis and a host of other shtickmeisters, everyone thinks of farce as a low, easy form of comedy in which there are no rules and the more chaos the better–in a pinch, all you have to do to get laughs is crawl out a window or climb into bed with the wrong woman. But no one laughs anymore when someone crawls out a window. In fact, a good farce is much harder to pull off than a regular comedy, which is why there have been so few masters of the form.
My heart sinks every time I see a slapped-together farce like Dave Freeman’s A Bedfull of Foreigners, a sloppy mixture of chance meetings, convenient misunderstandings, and mild sexual titillation (toned down for Evergreen Park’s blue hairs). But even if Freeman had been Georges Feydeau, I don’t think he would have fared well at the hands of all-thumbs director David Mink, who freely admits his low opinion of farce in a program note, calling it a “style of drama in which characters are…often stereotypes, dialogue is usually banal, and spectacle is not important.” A great description of bad farces, sure, but not of great ones like Feydeau’s A Flea in Her Ear and Joe Orton’s What the Butler Saw. Unfortunately the presence of lots of likable, funny actors–Kelley Hazen, Laurie Carter Rose, Jack Hickey–can’t save this production. –Jack Helbig