There is a bit of a problem going down at the Palm Beach Royale Hotel. Actually there are a lot of problems. Two of Hollywood’s biggest stars are coming to sing as a fundraiser for the war. The biggest problem is that they can’t stand each other and every single staff member and their assistants have to work to keep them apart. Thus unfolds Michael McKeever’s Suite Surrender, a farce playing at Stage West.
Claudia McFadden (Elizabeth Stepkowski Tarhan) has arrived at the Palm Beach Royale and loves the suite. Except there aren’t enough white roses in he room. The hotel manager Bernard Dunlap (Kevin Hare) has worked to ensure that McFadden’s mortal enemy Athena Sinclair (Chantal Perron) is as far away from the superstar as possible. Nothing could possibly go wrong. Except for everything. In the mix is Mrs. Everett Osgood (Susan Johnston-Collins), the sponsor of the benefit concert and Otis (Scott Olynek) a bell boy. Throw in McFadden’s assistant Mr. Pippet (Trevor Rueger) and a bit of romance between Sinclair’s assistant Murphy (Charlie Gould) and the bell hop Francis (Adrian Shepherd), along with reporter Dora Rio (Natascha Girgis) and you have the makings of a great comedy.
Suite Surrender is laugh out loud funny. Of course, there are moments that don’t land, but for the most part, the entire cast has the audience in stitches. To begin with the whine of both Johnston-Collins and Tarhan’s voices is a little much. Claudia McFadden is incredibly demanding and her voice is shrill. But as soon as the premise is established, the play veers into comedic gold. This is when the physical comedy really takes over. This is carried mostly by Hare and Girgis, who are masters of physical comedy and Olynek and Rueger also bring out the comedic charm. Hare has an uncanny resemblance to John Cleese and the entire play captures that Faulty Towers vibe.
Director J. Sean Elliott brings out the best in everyone on stage including the dog, who is calm and unperturbed in anyone’s arms. Michael Gesy’s sound design turns him into a vicious, spoiled animal and it’s a brilliant use of sound design.
Opening night displayed the cast’s ability to keep going without missing a beat. One of the doors broke when Hare was slamming it shut and he just kept rolling with it. A glass fell and shattered when Gould slammed another door and she didn’t even notice. The raw talent on stage made Suite Surrender hilarious. If you like farce done well, this is for you.
Stage West’s production of Suite Surrender runs until April 17th. More information is available online.
Photo Credit: John Watson