"Epilogue Players; directed by Phyllis Harvey
With a fabulous opening that mocks bad acting everywhere, director Phyllis Harvey sets her cast off at a fast clip, the better to keep us from realizing there’s not much to this lightweight farce. Set in 1953 Buffalo, where a traveling theater is performing Cyrano de Bergerac and Private Lives while having a nervous breakdown, Ken Ludwig’s comedy pays tribute to a bygone theatrical era. With its sharp-tongued lovers and numerous urgent exits, it put me in mind of screwball comedies like My Girl Friday and Arsenic and Old Lace. In an excellent comic coupling, Bill Becker and Pepper Lapaglia play married actors facing infidelity and financial ruin with large doses of hysteria, tempered by an affection some couples manage to retain after decades together. Carol Burnett took the female lead on Broadway, but it is mostly the male lead’s show here. Becker performs most of the costume-splitting antics and gets most of the laughs, except for a run-on drunk scene that dragged the second act down. He is well supported by Pink Bailey, as the sane daughter who wants nothing to do with his crazy company, and Todd Crickmore, as her naive fiancé. As the fictitious theater’s manager, straight man Jeff Roby’s calm countenance assures us that happy endings are just on the other side of mayhem and disaster. Through Nov. 18; 317-842-2811. —JB"