Comedy, even with a solid script, is not the easiest genre to perform. There’s a fine line between allowing the comedy of the script to shine and pushing for laughs. Oddly enough both can occur within a production based on the performances of each actor; at least that was my observation from the performance of ‘Laughter on the 23rd Floor’ that I viewed this past weekend.
‘Laughter on the 23rd Floor’ by Neil Simon was written as a tribute to his colleagues in the writers’ room on Sid Caesar’s Your Show of Shows. The show ran every Saturday night on NBC in the early 1950’s; similar to the Saturday Night Live program we have today.
This production by Bay Players, with direction by Michael Pevzner, was an admirable attempt that had the audience chuckling throughout. The small set transported the audience in the intimate space back to the writer’s room of the fictional Max Prince Show in 1953. It opens with newcomer to the writing team Lucas (Chris Tilden) setting the scene for the audience and as the play progresses various characters, all with their own quirks, enter the room and engage in friendly banter.
The show, though running a bit over 2 hours, moved along and kept the audience engaged throughout. However, a few things diminished the overall quality of the production. Firstly and I know this can happen with any show, lines were dropped or were being jumped by the actors. Ordinarily, this isn’t noticeable by most audience members unless they have a theatre background and the show continues as if nothing happened. Unfortunately, however, it occurred a few too many times and though covered well by the cast; it was obivous it had an effect on them.
The more mistakes that were made the more certain actors tried to cover it up by pushing the comedic line past humorous into the area of overdone leaning towards farce. Secondly, character accents went in and out; making it difficult at times to understand what was being said.
That being said, there were a few stand out performers who gave a consistent, solid performance. Firstly, was James Koonce as Kenny who was believable throughout offering many witty one-liners. Secondly, was David Giagrando who portrayed Max Prince. His comedic timing was right on the money and he pushed the comedic line without going too far. Other cast members include: Chris Tilden (Lucas), Ed Krasnow (Milt), Stephen Doherty (Val), Brian Hurley (Brian), Jennifer Walsh (Carol), Sarah Wall (Helen), and Paul Antico (Ira).
Overall, this production was a fun night out and the audience clearly enjoyed themselves.
‘Laughter on the 23rd Floor’ plays for 2 more performances this coming weekend Friday November 13th & Saturday November 14th both at 8pm. Performances are at 842 Tremont St. (Rte. 3A) Duxbury, MA. For more information and to reserve tickets visit http://www.bayplayers.org/
For more of my reviews and theatrical thoughts check out: http://intheatresome1isalwayswatching.blogspot.com