New farce pledges intrigue, mayhem
By Cynthia Bombach Helzel
Published: Friday, Aug. 2, 2013, 8:02 p.m.
A secret meeting between a male CIA agent, a female secretary of state and the mysterious representative of an oil-rich island nation escalates into a libidinous farce in “Sin, Sex and the CIA,” a new play being performed over the next two weeks at the Mountain Playhouse in Jennerstown.
The meeting takes place in a remote cabin in Virginia and soon expands to include a cast of characters ranging from the cabin's caretaker, who refers to the CIA as the “Complete Idiots Academy,” to a clueless evangelist who comes to the cabin seeking help after his car breaks down. To further complicate matters, a major rainstorm strands everyone inside.
“It is a madcap night at a mountain cabin in Virginia. All sorts of intrigue and shenanigans take place,” director Guy Stroman says. “It's a very American play.”
It's also a very new play. The Mountain Playhouse production will be the show's professional premiere. It has previously been done only in two small theaters in Florida.
“I'm really trying to invent it as I go along,” Stroman says, since there is no precedent for the production. “Since it's such a new concept, there's no history to it. That makes it a fun challenge.”
Teresa Marafino, Mountain Playhouse's executive producer, says the play was chosen, in part, because it is so new. “We were looking for a farce we'd never done before,” she says. “Because part of our audience comes to everything we do.”
Stroman believes that audiences will enjoy the modern humor of the play. “It's just so crazy. It's like a great, extended version of (a ‘Saturday Night Live') skit.”
Behind the humor lies a foundation of reality. “There's just enough contemporary background in it to give it some reality, but the rest of it is just complete nonsense,” he says.
As for the “Sex” part, Stroman says, “everyone is trying to get some action.” He believes the show is appropriate for older teens and up. “It's tamer than anything they would see on ‘SNL,'” he says.
Martin Landry plays bumbling CIA rookie Luke James, who seems to do everything wrong, including setting a fire in the cabin's kitchen and getting caught in his own booby traps.
“He's very eager to do the job, but he's completely incompetent, and he proves that many, many times during the show,” Landry says.
The actor relishes the opportunity to play such a ridiculous character.
“It's a chance to do something completely over the top and outrageous, yet completely real. It's quite a challenge,” Landry says. He compares the show's style of comedy to the “Airplane!” and “Naked Gun” movies. “These people take themselves very seriously, but they are all outrageous,” he says.
Landry's castmates include Joe Joyce as Daniel Warren, Debra Gordon as Assistant Secretary of State Margaret Johnson, John Little as the Rev. Samuel Abernathy, Caroline Shannon as Millicent, Lisa Riegel as Heather Ann Farady and J.D. Daw as Ranger Don.
“People can expect a breathless, madcap, nonstop funny evening,” Stroman says. “This one stops only at the last curtain.”
Cynthia Bombach Helzel is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.
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