By PAM HARBAUGH
English farce again has invade Melbourne Civic Theatre, this time a lesser of its bawdy brethren, “There Goes the Bride.”
For sure, playwrights Ray Cooney (the English farce-meister himself) and John Chapman deliver what is expected: mixed-up identities, an orderly home which turns into a place of chaos, accelerating action. The only things missing are more doors, scantily clad women and the police.
The formula has been followed, somewhat, but the play lacks stick-to-your-ribs substance. For despite all the production’s fuss and broad-comedy fury, the play itself does not rise above what you would expect these days of a popular half-hour TV sit-com.
In it, Ursula Westerby awaits her husband, Timothy, so they can get their daughter, Judy, to the church for her wedding. Also in the mix are Ursula’s parents, a family friend and a grouchy father of the groom who has yet to meet his future daughter-in-law.
Timothy slips and knocks himself in the head, causing him to hallucinate that the seductive flapper girl he has concocted for an ad campaign has actually come to life. Then, one at a time, people fuss to hide the truth that Timothy is hallucinating.
There are some funny lines within it all, the best one referring to Daphne Drimmond looking like Queen Elizabeth. There are giggles thanks to director Peg Girard’s inventive direction and the talented cast’s energetic performances which squeeze out more humor than the writing offers. But bits like those about the bride’s virginity, a pestering boss and the family friend’s attraction for Ursula come into the action and hang around, going nowhere.
Just because the name “Ray Cooney” is attached to this play does not make it failsafe. Indeed, when it comes to comedy, it might be time to say goodnight to Mr. Cooney the way many theaters have said goodnight to Mr. Simon.
SIDE O’ GRITS: “There Goes the Bride” runs through Feb. 23 at Melbourne Civic Theatre, 817 E. Strawbridge Ave., Melbourne. Tickets are general and seniors/military/students. There is a service fee for credit card purchases. Call 321-723-6935 or visit www.mymct.org.