Bedroom Farce. Bedroom Farce is the story of four couples and three bedrooms. The oldest pair, Delia and Ernest, are looking forward to a pleasant dinner and a quiet night. But their plans are upended by Susannah, the intensely neurotic wife of their socially obtuse son, Trevor. The depredations of Trevor and Susannah don't stop there. Over the course of one frenetic evening, they destroy the expensive party planned by their friends Malcolm and Kate, threaten the relationship of Nick and Jan (Trevor once dated Jan and gets caught kissing her), and make sure no one gets any sleep. The play, by renowned British playwright Alan Ayckbourn, isn't a traditional farce. There are insanely farcical scenes, but each arises with perfect logic from what could almost be real life, as well as from the characters' personalities. Ayckbourn has a habit of setting himself intricate dramaturgical puzzles and solving them with ingenuity and precision, stunning audiences with the sheer cleverness with which every piece of the action clicks into place, and Bedroom Farceis no exception. The dialogue is absolutely priceless, too, a seamless mix of over-the-top exclamation and classic English understatement. Vintage hasn't quite caught the rhythm of this piece; the English accents are wobbly, and the acting is sometimes superficial. But on a limited tech budget and confined to a tiny stage that has to accommodate three rumpled beds, director Linda Williams has deployed an amiable cast, worked out the intricacies of the action and created a pleasant evening with quite a few laugh-out-loud moments. Presented by Vintage Theatre through February 6, 2119 East 17th Avenue, 303-839-1361, www.vintagetheatre.com. Reviewed January 13.
Hello, Dolly! You're looking for a warm, lively, music-filled, sweetly sentimental holiday season show — but you've had it up to here with Santas and Tiny Tims, as well as not-so-funny take-offs on Santas and Tiny Tims. Say hello to Hello, Dolly!, an old warhorse finding new life at Boulder's Dinner Theatre. The musical tells the story of a meddlesome widow, Dolly Levi, who makes a living connecting people. Ostensibly trying to find a wife for half-millionaire feed-store owner Horace Vandergelder, she's actually plotting to snare him for herself. First, though, she has to not only overcome his doubts, but free herself from the memory of her beloved dead husband, Ephraim. The plot — absurd, episodic, dated in parts — is really only a pretext for songs, dances and comic scenes, but the dialogue still has snap, and the songs are seductive. "It Takes a Woman" is a funny sendup of '50s marital expectations: "It takes a woman all powdered and pink/To joyously clean out the drain in the sink/And it takes an angel with long golden lashes/And soft Dresden fingers for dumping the ashes"; "Put on Your Sunday Clothes" is one of those joyous showstoppers that get your heart racing; "Dancing" starts as a comic dance lesson and ends with a horde of people swirling exhilaratingly across the stage; and "Before the Parade Passes By" is not only exhilarating, but touching, too. It's hard to imagine a more perfect Dolly than Alicia Dunfee, who imbues the role with warmth and charm, sings movingly, and brings depth and dignity to her soliloquies with her dead husband. Another terrific performance comes from Tracy Warren, who has a pure, beautifully modulated singing voice and loads of appeal as hatmaker Irene Malloy. The direction and choreography (the latter by Dunfee and Matthew D. Peters) are clean and tight. They meld together the disparate levels of talent on stage and give the performers a solid base from which to cut loose and enjoy themselves. Which they do — filling us with pleasure in the process. Presented by Boulder's Dinner Theatre through February 26, 5501 Arapahoe Avenue, Boulder, 303-449-6000, www.bouldersdinnertheatre.com. Reviewed December 2.