All in the timing
By Paul Atreides
Theatre critic at EatMoreArtVegas.com
Las Vegas Little Theatre kicks off the second half of the 2023-2024 season with Darling Mr. London, a British farce written by Anthony Marriott and Bob Grant. It’s an unremarkable script, yet it strives to be the typical farce, with the typical doors, that requires the typical exceptional timing. If the timing fails, the show fails.
Co-directed by David Ament and David Morcy, when it comes to the opening and closing of doors and delivering the majority of the dialogue, the timing is excellent, and the production succeeds on that level.
It’s the late 1970s. Edward, a telephone operator, has been sweet-talking other operators from all over the world. Under the guise of a contest, four of the women show up to consummate the relationship. Unfortunately, Edward lives with a wife (Rose), a vicar (Mark), who rents a room, a mother-in-law (Mrs. Rutledge), who spends more time there than at her own house, and a brother-in-law popping in (Gordon), also a phone operator who appears to have been doing his own sweet-talking.
The men fare better than the women mainly because the script gives them more to work with. Tommy Watanabe (Edward) and Trenton Klinkefus (Mark) are both superb. Their timing, not only with delivering lines but the physical schtick, are on par with one another. They’re having fun and take it over the top without losing intent. Mickey Roark (Gordon), gets off to a rather disjointed start, but finds solid ground in Act Two once his own philandering comes to light.
The rest of the performances feel disparate as if they are in a different play altogether. Marni Montgomery-Blake (Rose) and Denise Borek Morganti (Mrs. Rutledge) seem to be completely lost, not sure what to do or where to go. Their movements and stage business don’t quite match the dialogue. At the opening, Montgomery-Blake aimlessly wanders the stage dusting. At one point she straightens Edward’s overcoat and hat, then moments later tells him he best not leave them in that mess. In a scene that should be hilarious, Morganti is desperate to use the bathroom but calmly stands center stage.
In farce, like any other play, the conflict should be resolved by the end of the script. With Darling Mr. London it does not. In fact, it ends rather abruptly with Gordon still trying to escape through the patio doors as he is chased by one of the women he has wooed. There’s a black-out, and the expectation is the scene will continue. It becomes the curtain call instead. It’s as if the playwrights didn’t know how to get everything all satisfactorily straightened out for the happy ending.
Overall, the silliness is enjoyable. If farce is your kind of comedy, you won’t be disappointed. There were plenty of laughs, and the opening night audience had a rousing good time.
What: Darling Mr. London
When: 8 p.m. Friday - Saturday; 2 p.m. Sundays through Feb 4
2 p.m. Saturday, Jan 27
Where: Las Vegas Little Theatre - Mainstage, 3920 Schiff Drive
Tickets: $30 (702-362-7996; www.lvlt.org)
Grade: *** Satisfying
Producer: Las Vegas Little Theatre; Director: David Ament, David Morcy; Set Design: Ron Lindblom; Lighting Design: Ginny Adams; Costumes: Julie Horton; Stage Manager: Lep Morey