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Tour de Farce

Philip LaZebnik and Kingsley Day's "Tour de Farce" would be considered a two-hander. The knockabout comedy does in fact employ the talents of two players, but they're playing 10 characters, requiring an exhausting rush of quick costume changes from the dauntless thesps.

Cast:
With: Ames Adamson, Prentiss Benjamin.

Philip LaZebnik and Kingsley Day’s “Tour de Farce” would be considered a two-hander. The knockabout comedy does in fact employ the talents of two players, but they’re playing 10 characters, requiring an exhausting rush of quick costume changes from the dauntless thesps. The familiar antics accompanying some hanky panky in a hotel suite produce their modest share of giggles, but despite the fast-paced action, the farce quickly runs out of steam.

Ames Adamson, who makes frequent appearances on the New Jersey Repertory stage, has a veritable field day masquerading as a quintet of screwball characters. As the pivotal target of amorous mayhem, he is the author of a book on the subject of marital bliss. He also appears as a lascivious Washington senator (as well as the senator’s wife) and a very silly bellhop. His best creation, however, is that of a Scandinavian paparazzo who spends most of his time under the bed or hiding in a closet. Adamson harnesses the lunacy of his characters with wacky finesse.

Prentiss Benjamin runs the gamut from the writer’s disillusioned wife to an accordion-playing singing nun, a thieving Russian hotel maid and a celebrated talkshow host determined to get her guest author in a compromising position. As Gwenda, the senator’s seductive sex toy, she defines the age-old role of a sexually aggressive dumb floozy.

Director James Glossman has managed to time the exits and entrances and the slamming of doors so precisely that at times there appears to be more than two actors on the stage. This kind of exaggerated nonsense owes a lot to Ken Ludwig’s exceedingly clever “Lend Me a Tenor.” Playwrights LaZebnik and Day have assembled a package of time-worn bon mots and gags, some of which work quite well, in addition to some tiresome banter that falls flat.

A modest hotel room soon reduced to a shambles serves the action well, and Patricia E. Doherty has dressed the players in appropriate garb that defines the characters aptly. The backstage trio of assistant stage managers who assist the actors with their frequent costume changes are veritable magicians. They even take a well-deserved curtain call.

Tour de Farce

Luma Theater, Long Branch, N.J.; 65 seats; $30

Production: A New Jersey Repertory Co. presentation of a comedy in two acts by Philip LaZebnik and Kingsley Day. Directed by James Glossman.

Creative: Set, Carrie Mossman; costumes, Patricia E. Doherty; lighting, Jill Nagle; sound, Merek Royce Press; production stage manager, Rose Riccardi. Opened Jan. 28, 2006. Reviewed Jan. 29. Running time: 2 HOURS.

Cast: With: Ames Adamson, Prentiss Benjamin.

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