Unnecessary Farce by Paul Slade Smith

This farce is VERY funny. I usually cringe (or run) when I am handed a farce to read that I don’t recognize. Community theatres are awash in poorly written farces where all characters are exactly the same people when they slammed the first bedroom door as when they slammed the last. They often have low royalty fees, and have only been produced at other community theatres, not in discerning professional houses.  UF boasts (on its own site) that is is a “winner of 9 regional theatre awards.”

Due to my prejudices, I avoided reading this farce for weeks. I must admit there is no character growth here either. But, I didn’t care. By the time I had finished reading it, I had almost entirely cast the show in my head. If I could get half these people on board, it would be very entertaining to go to rehearsal. All roles should easily be filled by your theatre’s existing actor pool.

I was turned off by the extensive notes from the playwright on how the show should be played. Notes on his style and intention of punctuation are acceptable, but more and more precise notes on how to play the show were condescending. Leave Acting 101 to directors and teachers. If you haven’t made the play obvious in your dialogue, you haven’t your job. Liner notes don’t make a great album. Read the play first. If you need help directing or acting a moment, think about glancing at them.

Oh…The author is a shameless self-promoter: http://www.unnecessaryfarce.com/.

Casting: Most rolls may be filled by actors of any ethnicity. One male role must be Caucasian (a Scottish hitman).

4 males, 3 females

Most roles late 20’s to early 50’s, 2 roles: 50s to 70s

Running time: 110 – 120 minutes

Props/Scenery: 1 set: interior of 2 furnished adjoining modern basic motel rooms: 7 doors (it’s a bedroom farce) and common hallway, 4 realistic guns (1 must be a water gun), video camera on tripod, video recorder and small monitor, large platter of donuts (several practical, 1 cruller), large plaid duffel bag, bagpipes (they don’t need to be practical), several plaid ties, 2 pair handcuffs, ficus tree, modern hotel phones (long cords, attached to tables), hangers, a vase or lamp that can seem to be safely shattered by the force of a gunshot (nightly), without injuring actors.

Costumes: Full Highlander costume (hat, sporran, kilt/tartan, peasant shirt, belt w/holster, kilt socks, etc.), female police officer uniform (hat, shoes, etc.), regular duty holster and belt with common accessories, 3 shoulder holsters, 2 pair of handcuffs (practical), 2 nice suits (men’s), 2 sport coat/slacks (men’s), women’s business suit, form fitting slip, sleeveless blouse, appropriate attire for casually dressed mature female, 2 sets of male under garments including boxers.

Challenges:

  • Casting a classically built male who can perform a credible Scottish accent
  • It would be a benefit to safety and realism to hire a real fight choreographer
  • Language/Situations: shit: 2, “cut your balls off,” many “oh my God,” several sexual innuendos, grunting and tussling mistakenly suggesting sexual intercourse, suggested (not actual) homosexual coupling
  • Renting realistic firearms/holsters

Scripts and rights: http://www.playscripts.com/play/1490

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