I’ve done a bit of trash talking about Neil Simon plays over the years. This is particularly because only about three or four of his plays ever seem to find their way onto a stage. Community theaters always seem to stage his “war trilogy,” and that’s about it.
But there are other Simon plays out there that should get their share of stage time. Olympia Little Theater apparently got that memo since it is staging Rumors. This show has made its way around the South Sound in recent years, but it is certainly one that is in the wings rather than center stage when it comes to name recognition of Simon plays.
The show is simple enough at its core. A woman named Chris Gorman and her husband, Ken, walk into what they think is going to be a run-of-the-mill anniversary party for the deputy mayor of New York City only to find that the host is bleeding and his wife is missing.
Apparently the party was a bit of a ruckus just moments before they arrived. The otherwise embarrassing evening for the political up-and-comer gets comedic as efforts to spin the story lead to a slide into the absurd.
While the play is set in one living room, which makes it prime pickings for budget-minded community theaters, OLT seems to have gone all out. The stage looks more like an actual living room than others I have seen in quite a long time. This show points out that all of the acting needs a solid platform on which to do its magic.
The 20-year-old play is just as funny now as when it played Broadway. Even though some of the references are a bit out of date, the comedy is timeless.
Another show to see in Olympia is the one-woman, original storytelling show titled Personal Ad by Elizabeth Lord.
It’s description says it all: “Chubby, Smart, Blonde, SWF 5’4” seeks opportunity to fall in love, decide not to get married or have children, reveal all closeted skeletons, become truly intimate, build intense mutual appreciation, decide we need more than the other person can give, part amicably, and booty call each other for the next three years. Or not. What do you want?”
This is a storytelling show for independent thinkers, hopeless romantics, and lonely hearts that explores relationships in the modern world. Lord has been performing professionally for more than 15 years in the South Sound. What makes her great is that she takes big risks and shows no fear. She jumps headlong into a project that would make lesser thespians question their sanity.
[Olympia Little Theatre, Rumors, through May 18, 7:55 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 1:55 p.m. Sunday, $10-$12, 1925 Miller Ave. N.E., Olympia, 360.943.7500, www.olympialittletheater.org]
[Midnight Sun Performance Space, Personal Ad, 8 p.m. Thursday-Sunday, $7-$15, 113. N. Columbia St., Olympia, 360.250.2721, www.buyolympia.com/events]