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A Bedfull of Strangers

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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

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