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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Sunset Playhouse Fuels Neil Simon’s ‘Rumors’

Theater Review

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Sunset Playhouse continues its season with an entertaining production of Neil Simon’s Rumors.Written in the ’80s, Rumors is a comedy set at an anniversary party for a couple that never actually appears onstage. This detail can be revealed since it has nothing to do with the rest of the comedy, which playfully toys with details of upper-class life played out as a classic mid-century farce. Mark Metcalf directs this Sunset Playhouse production with considerable polish.

The basic premise of the play is established in the first few minutes of the show. The husband and wife celebrating their anniversary aren’t well. The wife is nowhere to be seen. The husband has accidentally shot himself in the ear due to a botched suicide attempt. As the guests arrive and realize that something is amiss, they attempt to keep from each other the real reason why the party’s hosts aren’t there.

The comic possibilities of this premise are explored in the most obvious shades of comedy. The real treat here is the opportunity to see talented comic actors at work.

Randall T. Anderson, fun in almost anything, plays the lawyer Ken Gorman. Anderson has a brilliant instinct for this kind of comedy and manages to find humor in even the most obvious of punch lines. In the role of Claire, Sarah Laak Hughes adds a highly comic poise. She shows a beautifully articulated grace under fire that adapts to the difficulties of the play.

Sunset Playhouse’s production of Rumors runs through May 8.

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