Curtain Up: Never underestimate the nice guy

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Gulfshore Playhouse continues its run of well-produced, professionally acted productions with “Unnecessary Farce,” presented through this weekend.

Watching farce is like reading Dagwood. You know what to expect, but the conventions and the running gags are funny, in part, just for that reason. I have always heard that farce is hard to do right. In the small confines of the Norris Center one can see why. The characterizations must be broad but disciplined. The stage business — all that physicality, all those slamming doors — has to be choreographed and seem effortless. You need to get through the inevitably long exposition in the first act, setting up the second-act gags, without bogging down. There are always lots of words.

I cannot begin to describe the plot, but I can say that there is one funny, silly conceit — that a town is run by a mob of Scots who call themselves the Clan (“with a ‘C’”). This idea creates the opportunity to introduce a Scottish character whose brogue, when he is angry, becomes so thick that he requires a translator. (Yes, there is a kilt and there is a bagpipe, which thankfully is never played.)

The direction is crisp and the casting and acting as usual are strong across the board. Zolan Henderson, in his second appearance at Gulfshore, is a fine comic leading man. Elizabeth Dimon is a sweet wife with a secret. Terry Wells as the Mayor deserves special notice. As it is revealed that the good-natured dolt he first appears to be is really a perceptive realist — though still good-natured — you appreciate the playing and see how you have misjudged the guy. If there is any moral to this piece of fluff, it is that you should not underestimate the nice guy.

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