One of the many reasons I quit writing for a local libertarian-oriented newspaper that will remain nameless is because they kept sending me to Neil Simon plays. So when the assignment to see Gary Krinke's version of Neil Simon's Rumors at Stages came my way, I was, needless to say, overwhelmed.What the hell was a supposedly alternative playhouse—which prides itself on its frenetic production schedule and dedication to new plays—doing running the kind of commercial tripe into which every community theater in the county sooner or later descends? Rent due?
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Always up for attacking a little hypocrisy, I squeezed myself into the rafter seats of the packed venue and waited for the worst. But it never came. I hate it when that happens.
Rumors is one of Simon's most convoluted pieces. Eight unsuspecting guests arrive at an upper-class couple's 10-year-anniversary party only to find no servants, food or hostess, and the host with a bullet hole in his earlobe. It has the feel of a Hayes Code-era comedy —no sex or violence and lots of witty jabs. This made the twilight-years crowd in attendance quite pleased. But what won me over—yes, they got me—was the incredibly talented cast and deft directing. The consistently good Mo Arii (Chris) and Tracey Perdue (Claire) lit up the stage with perfect comedic timing, Michael Brainard and Brian Kojac as their husbands teetered effectively on the edge of farce, and Chezney Higgins was dead-on with socialite crystal-freak Cassie. So what can I say?
If you must see a Neil Simon play (and I can't think why you would), put yourself in the loving hands of Stages—at least they do Simon right.
Rumors at Stages, 400 E. Commonwealth, Fullerton, (714) 525-4484. Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 6 p.m. Through March 12. $15.