"Neil Simon's Rumors" at the Stage Door Theatre in Coral Springs is about as funny as theater gets.
And not that kind of oh-how-amusing chuckle either: we're talking full-on guffaws; doubled-over laughs and even – I swear this is true – a knee-slapper or two. A more delicious romp you will not find.
Now this isn't effete "Candide" mind you. Neil Simon's fast-paced farce – with all the genre's slamming doors, mistaken identities, physical humor – is a garrulous gallop more than a careful canter, especially here as directed by Dan Kelley who keeps the show humming with velocity, spiraling upward and outward without losing control.
The comedy opens at the well-to-do suburban home of one percenters gathering for an anniversary dinner party. But the hostess is missing as are the servants and the host (also the deputy mayor of New York) has apparently shot himself in the earlobe. The guests – all gossip prone country clubbers – start weaving a web of deceit to conceal the potential scandal from the press and the police.
As the couples arrive and are initiated into the crisis, they each add their own topspin to the situation. This mostly works (which means occasionally it doesn't) because of the solid cast: Jill Taylor Anthony, Richard Brundage, Niki Fridh, Matthew Korinko, Christine DeFrece, Stephen Michael Guice, Leah Sessa, Glen Lawrence, Christopher DePaola and John Michael Gordon.
So what if the set is a tad too spartan and the casts' wisecracking timing a little off in bits? Never-you-mind, any minute now another joke train will pull into the giggle station making enough noise and puffing out enough smoke to divert your attention away from those shortcomings. And if the cops introduced late in the second act never quite delivers on its comedic promise plot wise, well thankfully by then "Rumors" has built up so much goodwill, you can just let that go.
Better to drink it in, big gulps of it. Who knows when you'll have the chance again?
"Neil Simon's Rumors" runs through Nov. 11 at Stage Door Theatre, 8036 West Sample Road in Coral Springs. Performances are Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. Matinees are Wednesday through Saturday at 2 p.m. Tickets are $38. To order, call 954-344-7765 or visit StageDoorFL.org.