Newnan Community Theatre presents Simon farce 'Rumors'

Newnan Community Theatre presents Simon farce 'Rumors'

By Joan Doggrell
jdoggrell@bellsouth.net

Neil Simon’s “Rumors” opened yesterday at the Newnan Community Theatre.

“Everyone loves Neil Simon,” said Paul Conroy, Artistic Director for NCTC. “He’s one of the top three best known American playwrights, the other two being Arthur Miller and Tennessee Williams. He’s like an old friend you haven’t seen in awhile, but when you meet again you know exactly where you left off and what you’re getting into.”

Perhaps the most recognized Neil Simon title is “The Odd Couple,” first a 1965 Broadway play, then a successful film and television series followed by several spin offs. Simon also wrote the movie scripts for “Biloxi Blues,” “The Goodbye Girl,” “Murder by Death” and “The Out-of-Towners,.” among others. Simon is credited with 38 plays. The most recent, “Rose’s Dilemma,” opened in 2003. He has won more Academy and Tony nominations than any other writer, and is the only playwright to have had four Broadway productions running simultaneously.

Simon’s “Rumors” is a farce, pure and simple. Don’t look for a serious theme, complex characters, or even a plausible plot. Expect unlikely, extravagant, and improbable situations, disguises and mistaken identity, verbal humor, physical humor and downright nonsense. Plus a lot of fun.

Paul Conroy describes “Rumors” as Simon’s most “screwballesque” comedy. In screwball comedies, the upper class is sometimes brought down a peg or two. In “Rumors,” the setting is a posh residence in New York City. The deputy mayor has shot himself in the ear. The characters arriving at his anniversary party make fools of themselves trying to conceal this embarrassing fact for fear that the hoi polloi who read newspapers might find out that their “betters” have feet of clay.

“It’s a modern spin on those classic British and French farces, those fast-paced shows that clip along,” Conroy explained. “This is Neil Simon’s ode to that type of comedy. It moves so fast that people are going to say they didn’t know the play was two hours long.”

“Rumors” is a lot different from ‘The Odd Couple,’” said Susan Patterson, who plays a leading role in “Rumors.” “’The Odd Couple’ was very much a character study, showing how Felix Unger and Oscar Madison were like oil and water. ‘Rumors’ is simply ridiculous. Really implausible things happen. There’s a lot of confusion and chaos, slamming of doors, someone going out one door and someone else coming in another. The characters are telling lies and half-truths and trying to keep their stories straight.”

“It’s an unusual play in that two of the main characters aren’t actually in the show: the deputy mayor and his wife,” said Robbie Kirkland, assistant director for “Rumors.”

“We had to devise ways to make sure that the person who is going to come through that door knows exactly when somebody else goes through another door.
We’ve come up with tricks and methods to signal each other because this person isn’t supposed to know about that person. They can’t be on stage accidentally at the same time,” Patterson explained.

Mandy Mitchell, the “Rumors” director, keeps telling the cast, “If it’s not fast, it’s not funny.”

NCTC is staging “Rumors” at 24 First Ave., Newnan. The show opens May 12 at 8 p.m. Subsequent performances are on May, 13, 14, 19, 20, and 21 at 8 p.m., and on Sundays May 15 and 22 at 2:30 p.m.

For more information phone 770-683-6282 or visit www.newnantheatre.org

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