Paul Slade Smith began writing Unnecessary Farce while touring as a cast member in Phantom of the Opera. The play is set in two adjoining motel rooms, so you can guess where he received his inspiration.
Unncessary Farce finds two inept undercover police officers attempting to videotape the mayor admitting to a city accountant that he embezzled $16 million. Officer Billie Dwyer is an eager, dimwitted rookie. Her partner, Eric Sheridan -- a paper-shuffler who hasn't had a girlfriend since college -- finds himself amorously entwined with the accountant, Karen. After reviewing the plan with her, Eric finds himself in the throes of passion while, in the other room, Dwyer gawks at them on the surveillance monitor.
Still, the officers manage to lure the mayor into the adjoining room, and just as Karen is about to ask the $16 million question, all hell breaks loose. Enter a city security agent with a macho exterior who cowers like a little girl at the hint of trouble; a kilt-wearing, bagpipe-playing assassin with a thick Scottish accent, whose words become less discernible the angrier he gets; and the mayor himself, who always seems to pop into the room whenever the cast is in a compromising position in bed, or in some stage of undress.
This is an hilarious, well-written farce that promises side-splitting laughs. With direction by Ron Ferrara, Apple Hill has assembled a strong cast with great chemistry.
As Agent Frank, Bob Peters captures the dichotomy of the macho/wimp and isn't afraid to show off his tighty-whities. As Todd, the assassin, Patrick Link sustains an impressive Scottish accent and is a laugh riot when he escalates into irate Scottish gibberish.
Briana Downs, as Billie, is boisterous at times, and over-the-top, which is distracting. But she has a great sense of physical comedy, and her pipes are put to good use when she interprets Todd's long-winded rants, orating them impressively.
Justin Mohr portrays Officer Sheridan a little too cool and confident; a more bookish, nerdy reading would have worked better. However, Mohr's comedic timing and charming wit are definitely crowd-pleasers.
Meghan O'Halloran, as Karen; Tom Dougherty, as Mayor Meekly; and Kathleen O'Halloran, as Mary Meekly, complete this fine cast.
Unnecessary Farce continues through Aug. 22. Apple Hill Playhouse, 275 Manor Road, Delmont. 724-468-5050 or www.applehillplayhouse.org