PC: Peter Swanzy

Theater Review: Out of Order

Director David Belew’s rollicking production of Ray Cooney’s “Out of Order” has just opened at the ProArts Theater in Kihei (at Azeka’s Marketplace). It’s a naughty, fast paced and wildly funny comedy for adults only and full of memorable set pieces.

Dale Button stars as Richard Wiley, a Cabinet Minister with a loving wife (played by Laura Kinne), a mistress (played by Hana Valle-Eebb) and a loyal sideman (played by Lou Young) whose friendship to Richard is put to the ultimate test. The sudden appearance of a corpse in a hotel room leads to failed cover-ups, mistaken identities and mounting lies, until everyone is practically trying to either kill or sleep with each other. 

A rollicking door slamming farce, “Out of Order” takes off like a rocket and keeps the scenario moving at a frenetic pace. This kind of comedy, most famously sent up in “Noises Off,” depends on crackerjack timing, lines that come quickly, and an unceasing momentum; all that is here and then some, thanks to Belew’s direction and a wonderfully assembled cast, who perform this with skill and affection. Taking place on a single set (well designed by Ricky Jones), the cast finds a rhythm they sustain from start to finish.

Although he’s surrounded by an excellent ensemble, this is a great vehicle for Button, who sets the comic barometer early and gives a positively John Cleese-like performance. Lou Young has to match Button’s energy and provide him with a scene partner for much of the show- he absolutely delivers, in a hilarious turn. Young’s character takes a wild turn in the second act and the actor is up for every one of those outrageous reveals. Playing a Waiter whose insistence on good service is both a hindrance and a key to the whole thing is Richard Young, who is a riot playing a character whose purpose builds nicely over the course of the show. Hana Valle-Webb makes the most of her role and has some nice reactionary moments as the shenanigans mount. 

Alan Muniz provides some wonderful physical comedy as The Body and Marsi Smith gives her cameo scenes a sharp edge. Shane Borge, sporting an impressive Scottish accent, brings an amusing sense of danger and unpredictability to his every appearance. Kathy Wortey milks her few scenes for big laughs- in a show of scene stealers, her ferocious bits are especially brisk but hilarious. Laura Kinne has a remarkably well performed scene with Young in the second act and, finds exactly the right tone for her performance. I liked the slow burn of David Negaard’s performance as the Hotel Manager, as his every appearance signal how the comic volume is being turned up by another notch (indeed, this show’s comedy knob does go up to 11).

Blending light political humor, sex gags and old-fashioned French slapstick, “Out of Order” finds quick bits that are timely, while revamping a traditional style of comedy in a manner that is neither creaky nor lead footed. If anything, the joy in these performances obscures how much effort goes into making something like this work. 

The jokes come so quickly, even the one-liners that don’t land fly by, as another bit is set up and hits hard. As advertised, this is absolutely not for children, as adult humor (which extends far beyond the expected innuendos) and some peekaboo moments of nudity make this for strictly for grown-ups. It makes for a randy date night option, or the kind of show you take with a group of friends who will howl with you during and after the show. 

When this kind of show is done at this level, it needs to be experienced and enjoyed with an audience in need of their funny bones being savagely tickled. The timing is just right for this show, and its most outrageous and hysterical moments are unforgettable. 

Out of Order is playing March 6-22nd at ProArts Theater in Kihei. Tickets are available at proartsmaui.com or by calling 808-463-6550. 

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About Barry Wurst II

Barry Wurst II
Barry Wurst II is a senior editor & film critic at MAUIWatch. He wrote film reviews for a local Maui publication and taught film classes at the University of Colorado in Colorado Springs (UCCS). Wurst also co-hosted podcasts for Screengeeks.com and has been published in Bright Lights Film Journal and in other film-related websites. He is currently featured in the new MAUIWatch Podcast- The NERDWatch.

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