“Rumors,” a farcical dark comedy by Neil Simon, will quite literally start off the Hinman Production Company’s fall season with a “bang.”
The play revolves around the friends of deputy mayor Charlie Brock, who recently attempted suicide but only managed to shoot himself clean through his earlobe. Though the actual subject matter of the play is quite dark, there is never a dull moment in HPC’s comedy.
“It’s very easy for [the humor] to get lost in translation, for it to not come off that way and for the audience to just be terrified,” said Sydney Rosen, co-director of the play and a junior majoring in English. “[Our actors] do a fantastic job of making the dark humor mesh well with the drama that’s going on. It pulls the whole show together.”
Simon himself described farce as something that is “relentless” — it’s desperate for plot twists or any other device that can keep the comedy going. It’s a type of play that depends entirely upon miscommunications between characters, something that this show is brimming with. Every second of dialogue is an often poorly fabricated lie that the friends tell one another in an attempt to stop a scandal from breaking out. These lies lack malicious intent, but quickly pile up, causing the rumors of the show to completely take over the lives of the characters.
This is how the directors interpret Simon’s belief: it’s relentless in the sense that the morals of each character are to be questioned at every moment. However, regardless of the outstandingly elaborate ruses the characters create in order to keep their friend out of the public eye, the play does an excellent job of still presenting the characters as being flawed individuals who are, when it comes down to it, nothing more than human.
“You don’t really feel like, ‘Oh wow, I’m watching a show about terrible people,’” said Brynne Wilkinson, co-director of the play and a junior majoring in linguistics. “You’re like, ‘Wow, I’m watching a show about people.’ At the end of the day, we’re all flawed.”
In such a high-energy play, one can’t help but worry about the energy’s possible effect on the show’s physical set. Though it’s thrilling to watch the actors careen over couches, tables and into each other, there were moments where the bursting through and slamming of doors seemed to push the set a step closer to collapsing. However, considering the monetary and spatial confines of HPC’s productions, staged in the Hinman Commons, the fear of everything falling apart only adds to the frantic, high-stakes tone of the play.
Though this party of highly successful adults is so hinged upon adolescent-like gossip, it’s hard not to empathize when they are wounded by the legitimacy of these rumors. This attitude is one that resonates well with the audience. Though we many not openly condone these characters, there’s a part of their nature that feels very familiar.
“Come on, what are the rumors?” is something that Claire, played by Gabriella Yanotti, a senior majoring in English, begs to know onstage. That dying-to-know mentality is one that is recognizable within us all.
“Rumors” opened on November 5 at 8 p.m. and will continue its run at 8 p.m. on November 6 and 7, with a 2 p.m. performance on November 7.