July 11, 2001


Uproar in the House

reviewed by
Lynn Trenning

















For more information about this production, please visit CPCC Summer Theatre 2001.

For more about Lynn Trenning, please visit her main page.

Summer Theatre at Central Piedmont Community College has a training schedule that rivals boot camp. Two weeks is the allotted rehearsal time for each show. While many of the actors perform one show at night, they also rehearse six hours during the day. And that doesn't include the time they need to learn their lines.

Two weeks was enough time for director Tom Vance to elicit solid professional performances and acceptable British accents in the neatly packaged, albeit formulaic British comedy, Uproar in the House. Nigel Pitt, a prudish twit who is also a fledgling politician, has been set up with a fake wife and household staff in a scheme to sell a country house. When the clients arrive before expected, the resulting dialogue is a series of charming lies, followed by attempts to extricate each other from successive lies. Ignorant that the clients are present, characters who pop on stage at awkward moments are explained away or forced to hide. Conveniently, a bout of bad weather makes it impossible for anyone to leave, and even contributes a few stranded motorists to the fray.

As the repartee proceeds, it becomes apparent that everyone has something to hide, and leads the play to succeed as a lampoon of moral hypocrisy. From the pretentious attorney, played with pompous sincerity by Jason Coosner, to the supposedly innocent clients, all auspices of moral authority are questionable.

Kiersten Moore's tastefully appointed set provides enough nooks, crannies, and doors for cast members to disappear and plausibly reappear over and over again. It is only artful stage direction that keeps characters who are not supposed to see each other from backing into one another. Nigel's fake wife Melanie, played by J. Courtney Taylor, employs excellent comic timing and an admirable range of facial expressions and vocal whoops to simultaneously embarrass and support Nigel. Holly Riley delights the audience with her rendition of a stiff British secretary forced to play a Swedish au pair. In an oddly superfluous role, Briana Yacavone gives a notable performance as the punkishly dressed assistant, who scurries from one hiding place to the next. Eventually, a situation that begins as ludicrous segues into ridiculous, and the scene crescendos into a tightly orchestrated finale.

Though portrayed in a modern setting, the play's social and sexual mores seemed ill-suited for contemporary society, but perfect fodder for the elderly Charlotte audience in attendance. There was cackling over the appearance of two grown men sleeping in the same room, and of an attorney walking in front of strangers in his underwear. The audience guffawed when the prudish became lusty.

As we left the theatre I overheard a patron say that she forgot where she parked, because "a lot just happened to me tonight." She was telling the truth.

Lynn Trenning, July 11, 2001

[ArtSavant link]
© 2000 - 2001 ArtSavant - enquiries to info@artsavant.com