If real political farce has fatigued you, reserve a ticket to see the Santa Clara Players 2016 – 2017 season-opening comedy “Rumors” by the prolific Jewish-American playwright Neil Simon, now 89. It opened October 21 and is playing select evenings through November 12, with two remaining Sunday matinees, behind the Triton Museum in the Hall Pavilion, 1511 Warburton Ave.
“It’s an exciting piece by Simon because it’s a farce and a bit different from his other works,” says director Robert Casillas. “It contains his biting wit and sarcastic humor.”
Written and set in the late 1980s, “Rumors” is a timeless, farcical romp around an upscale townhouse 20 miles north of New York City. The assumed owner, the Deputy Mayor of New York City, has just shot himself non-fatally in the–no, not the foot–in the earlobe. How could that happen? Was it attempted suicide? Attempted murder?
While the Deputy Mayor, Charlie Brock, lies bleeding in his upstairs bedroom, guests begin to arrive at a formal dinner party to celebrate his tenth anniversary with his wife, Myra, who inexplicably is missing. Brock’s lawyer, Len, and Chris, his wife and also a lawyer, are the first guests to arrive.
As the two lawyers endeavor to figure out the truth of what has happened to their hosts, other party guests arrive with their wives: Brock’s accountant, his therapist, and Glenn, a political candidate running for the New York State Senate.
Rumors are shared in confidence (and quickly passed around) that the Deputy Mayor is having an affair and his wife is having “a thing” and that the state senate candidate and his wife are guilty of infidelities. Amidst the rumors of indiscretions, all the guests become involved in a convoluted story to protect the Deputy Mayor from the political scandal that could result if news of the gun incident got out. Last to arrive at the party are uninvited guests–the police.
Typical of farce, the characters dart in and out of rooms chaotically. And the action is driven by an improbable plot that thrives on miscommunication and character exaggeration. Including a 15-minute intermission, “Rumors” runs about two hours.
The seasoned Santa Clara Players, who rehearsed five nights a week for five weeks, are well cast and play their stereo-typical parts to the preposterous hilt.
“I have a stellar cast, a very talented group of people,” says Casillas. “I’m very pleased with everything they bring to the show.”
“Rumors” is Simon’s first farce, written in 1988 when he was facing personal struggles and wanted to cheer himself up. It premiered in San Diego before heading to Broadway. Now, 39 years later, it has come to Santa Clara to cheer up politically-fatigued voters.
Santa Clara Players 2016 – 2017 season includes two other comedies: “7 -10 Split” by Michael Wilmot, February 24 – March 18, 2017, and “Things My Mother Taught Me” by Katherine Di Savino, May 12 – June 3, 2017. Cast audition dates are listed on the website: www.scplayers.org.
Santa Clara Players, a volunteer-run, nonprofit organization launched in 1962, is partially funded by a subsidy from the City of Santa Clara. Check the website or leave a phone message (408) 248-7993 for tickets: $16 general admission with discounts for seniors and students. The theater seats 71.