Read the title two ways: the sound of a doorbell, which features prominently in this adaptation of a French farce by Marc Camoletti; or the description of a person who is not very bright. Both are apt here in a somewhat strained production of a script that wears out its welcome early in Act II.
WHERE: Curtain Call Theatre, 210 Old Loudon Road, Latham
WHEN: Through Dec. 23
HOW MUCH: $23
MORE INFO: 877-7529, www.curtaincalltheatre.com
The play begins rather promisingly, with Bernard Marcellin (Victor L. Cahn) setting up an appointment with Robert (Chuck Conroy), his wife’s lover. Of course, the married Robert doesn’t know he has been found out and duped, thinking instead that the coast is clear and he can meet Jacqueline (Tara Burnham) at the Marcellins’ apartment.
Bernard has the upper hand, of course, and he gives Robert two choices: be killed by one of Bernard’s accomplices or arrange for Bernard to have an affair with Robert’s wife, Juliette (Angel B. Potrikus). In other words, Robert will be able to feel the pain of cuckoldry that Bernard has felt. Neither choice is optimal, but Robert agrees to the latter.
Robert turns the tables, however, leading to a series of scenes involving surprise appearances, shifting allegiances and mistaken identity.
Camoletti misfires in a number of ways. For one thing he simply goes on too long with the characters’ comings and goings, and the behind-the-curtain sneezing and the introduction of Nicole are just silly, not clever.
The production, too, falls a little short of the usual comic standards of Curtain Call. It needs zip. The physical business needs confidence. And the fake food props brought out by Marie-Louise, the meddling maid (Katherine Brillat), are simply distracting, not amusing.
Director Phil Rice, a veteran of CC shows, gets some nice work here and there from his actors, and Harlan D. Penn’s scenic design has enough entrances and exits for farce’s close calls. Cahn is at his best in the opening scene as the master puppeteer. Brillat has good instincts for her character’s repartee, but the pace could be crisper than it is. Burnham ably plays the wife who thinks she has conned her hubby but who spends most of the play trying to figure out what’s going on.
Conroy’s role is chiefly one-note—exasperated — and he’s fine. Potrikus scores in her pre-Nicole scene. And Erin Waterhouse is excellent as elegant call girl Barbara, a woman who knows how to play whatever part her clients want her to.
Even though the script is what it is, the production may gain some traction as the run continues. Certainly all of the experienced players are in place.