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LAMB stages wacky comedic farce as its 42nd season opener

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A few days before the curtain is set to rise, director Russ Wooley is worried about breakaway kilts and Scottish tam o'shanters that can take a beating.

Such things are major concerns when comedic farce takes the stage at LAMB Arts Regional Theatre, 417 Market St.

"In farce, it is all about the timing," Wooley says as actors change into their costume. "Everything must be like clockwork."

That is certainly the case with "Unnecessary Farce," which revolves around a sting operation conducted by two cops who are trying the get the goods on an embezzling mayor in a sleazy motel room.

Think of the show as "Sex, Lies & Videotape," only with more slamming doors, mistaken identities and slapstick comedy.

Slated to run for 10 performances, beginning Friday, this will actually be the second time that LAMB has staged playwright Paul Slade Smith's "Unnecessary Farce."

"We were actually one of the first theaters to perform 'Unnecessary Farce' 13 years ago," Wooley says. "Since then, the show has been performed around the world."

Wooley says re-staging the show as an opener for LAMB's 42nd season was an easy decision.

"After so much pandemic-related news, we need something to take our minds off COVID," he explained.

However, ensuring everyone's safety is major concern for Wooley.

"Masks aren't required but we'll certainly respect an audience member's comfort level," he says. "If you feel safer with a mask, wear a mask."

Also, LAMB's seating allows for social distancing. For this show, so does the stage.

"Because of the nature of the play, the set we use for 'Unnecessary Farce' needs to be exact," Wooley says. "Every production needs the same layout of two motels room, eight doors and a divider. That can never vary."

Remember, farces must be choreographed as thoroughly as a dance routine in order to work.

"A farce needs to start on a basis of reality," Wooley says. "If it starts on an unrealistic or impossible note, it becomes silly as opposed to funny."

To keep things funny, he's been putting his cast through their paces.

"This is the type of show where each piece of dialogue and each stage direction needs to followed without fail," Wooley says. "If not, I don't want to think of what would happen."

OK, if Wooley won't say the obvious, we will: Nobody wants to see a farce turn into, you know, a farce.

And it won't because Wooley hasn't assembled a solid cast of experienced actors.

"Farce isn't easy to pull off," he allows. "Many less-experienced directors don't know how to."

But Wooley is convinced that this production of "Unnecessary Farce" will be necessary for comedy lovers looking to some fast-paced fun.

"It is a show that is fun from beginning to end," he says.

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