The VegSOUP production of Neil Simon's "Rumors," directed by senior English and theatre major Chris Petty, is currently showing in the Robert Sinclair Theatre of Brodie Hall.
The play is a comedy about the miscommunication, scandal and irony that ensues as a group of friends becomes more focused on their fears rather than confronting the truth.
Petty, who described himself as a big fan of Neil Simon, said he thought that the play would be "something that the campus community would enjoy, that would be accessible." Indeed, the lessons learned about gossip in "Rumors" are applicable to any student or community member who has ever been blinded to the truth by a "juicy story."
"Rumors" revolves around four upper class couples attending a 10th anniversary party for Charlie Brock, deputy mayor of N.Y., and his wife, Myra. The first people to arrive, couple Chris and Ken Gorman-played by senior Alyssa Kostiner and freshman Mike Lanni respectively-stumble upon a potential scandal.
They hear a commotion upstairs where Charlie has attempted to shoot himself in the head only to miss and hit his ear, while Myra is nowhere to be found and the servants seem to have abandoned the home. Too drowsy from an apparent attempt at near overdose on Valium, Charlie remains unable to explain the situation, leaving the couple to conclude that he has attempted suicide: an illegal act and a major scandal for his office.
As the night progresses and more couples arrive, Chris and Ken do their best to keep the secret of Charlie's actions. Their psychologist friend Ernie Cusack, played by freshman Brian Clemente, explains, "We have to keep up the subterfuge," though the continued appearance of more guests destroys any hope of this strategy succeeding.
Perhaps the most refreshing thing about "Rumors" is that it relies on genuine situational comedy and humorous gags rather than just mere sensationalism. Despite the serious situation, the actors do an excellent job of evoking laughter through their performances.
Sophomore Nick Cotrupi plays Lenny Ganz, another one of Charlie's friends, and does a terrific job of changing his emotions on the spot as he reels at learning the truth of Charlie's situation.
Crista Fantone, also a sophomore, brings some levity to the show in the character of Cookie Cusack who experiences back spasms that cause her to crawl on the floor and makes ditzy comments that invoke incredulous looks from the other characters even amid the chaos of the play.
"Rumors" initially engages spectators with a mystery, and then continues to keep their attention with ironic jokes, awkward situations and rampant misunderstandings. All of this culminates in the surprising arrival of two police officers, played by sophomores Andrew Rudansky and Tanya Shoock, who thoughtfully observe that, "We have a lot of cartoon humor in the case, don't we?"
"Rumors" is definitely worth seeing, and will provide a memorable evening of amusement and intrigue. It is playing this Thursday and Saturday at 8 p.m., and Friday at 11 p.m. General admission is $5 and tickets are available at bbo.geneseo.edu.