A! Magazine for the Arts

 "Unnecessary Farce" runs through May 12 on Barter's Stage II.

"Unnecessary Farce" runs through May 12 on Barter's Stage II.

"Unnecessary Farce' leaves Audience near 'kilt' with Laughter

April 9, 2013

ABINGDON, VA - When BigTown/Small City, USA, assigns its two most incompetent cops to stake out Mayor Meekly's motel meeting with hot-to-trot town bookkeeper Karen Brown, the object being to ensnare the mayor into confessing financial malfeasance, is it any wonder they soon find themselves noggins to noggin with a kilt-garbed bag-piping hit man named Todd?

Who, by the way, is employed by the Scottish Clan - with a "C"- and offs his victims by forcing them to listen to his piping. Just in case that doesn't do the job he also has a pistol tucked securely in his frilly white man purse - but so far Todd's wet-work piping is batting 1,000.

As it turns out in Barter Theatre's "Unnecessary Farce," Mayor Meekly is as innocent as the day is long (in Antarctica on June 21st) but the dastardly threads of "Big Mac's" evil tartan has a grip on Big Town/Small City that rivals the roots of century-old heather bushes on a peat bog.

Parris Cromer, a Barter newcomer, is absolutely hilarious as Billie Dwyer, a cop so incompetent that she wears her uniform to the undercover stake-out and so dis-respected by her chief that she is packing a...shall we say...less than lethal side arm. Whether chaperoning a plate piled high with donuts or flipping a dastardly highland moll across a motel bed, she is excellent. Her partner in incompetency is Darrell Johnson, another fresh face for the old boards. Andrew Slane is Agent Frank.

Wendy Piper, as accountant Brown, displays a more than impressive athleticism as well as a knack for double-entendre bookkeeping that leaves most of her clothes in the debit column and ends up doing plenty of undercover work of her own.

Sean Campos is Todd and, although it's a hard call, has never been more hilarious. Campos ' versatility never fails to amaze and his brogue is every bit comparable to that of Robert Burns after a hard night of tippling.

Paris Bradstreet, as Mary Meekly, finishes out this fine cast - and darned near finishes it off.

As a good farce should be, "Unnecessary Farce" has nary a wee dram of subtlety and if you've ever wondered whether Scotsmen wear anything under those kilts this play will settle the question once and for all. It runs through May 12 on Barter's Stage II.

And who better to direct a play featuring a piper than Nick Piper?

For dates, times and reservations: (276) 628-3991 or www.bartertheatre.com.