Fantastic Farce

By Alison Tingley

All An Act Theatre Productions is currently presenting Ray Cooney’s Out of Order under the direction of David W. Mitchell. Cooney also wrote Run for your Wife, Caught in the Net, and Not Now Darling to name just a few of his plays. Cooney wrote Out of Order in 1990, and it’s a sequel to Two Into One. The British farce won the Lawrence Olivier Award for Comedy of the Year in 1991 and had a long run at London’s Shaftesbury Theatre. If you’re waiting for me to define the term “long run” too bad, because that’s all the information I could find. I’ve been looking for nearly 10 minutes now, so screw it.

The show is set in the 1990s at London’s Westminster Hotel in Suite 648. Junior Minister Richard Willey has a big problem when he finds a dead body stuck in the window of his hotel suite just before he can commence his affair with Jane Worthington, the secretary of another member of the Cabinet. Of course, he can’t just call the hotel manager since he can’t afford a scandal. So he calls his poor, unwitting secretary George Pigden to help him out of another awkward situation. Richard has a fool-proof plan to check George into the hotel and then move the body to George’s room. The plan is quickly dashed by constant interruptions by the hotel manager, a semi-helpful waiter, the chamber maid, Jane’s husband Ronnie, Richard’s wife Pamela, and George’s mother’s nurse. Poor George bears the brunt of the workload as he tries to keep the body hidden and keep people separated.

The show stars David W. Mitchell as Richard Willey and Dave DiCola as George Pigden. The supporting cast includes Erika Krenn (Jane Worthington), Michael Weiss (Hotel Manager), Larry Lewis (Waiter), Nick Kikola (Ronnie), Julie Caldwell (Pamela Willey), Ruth Scandale (Nurse Foster), Jesica LaFlamme (Maria), and Chad Santos (the Body).

Everyone in the cast delivers a wonderful performance. Special mention should be given to Mitchell, DiCola, and Lewis for timing and delivery. These three actors work so well together. You can tell they’ve been doing British farces for quite a while. DiCola especially is fun to watch as he always seems to be just realizing what he is about to say as he says it, and he plays frantic so damn well.

The set is as detailed and elaborate as you would expect from All An Act. The costumes from suits to towels are appropriate. The direction is spot on. This type of show relies on timing and dry delivery and All An Act always shines with these aspects of a performance.

Out of Order runs on weekends through December 8. However, there is no show on November 29. Additionally, all proceeds from the November 30 show benefit the Community Shelter Service Christmas drive for children, and $1 from every admission benefits Community Shelter Service and Erie’s homeless population. Plus, All An Act has dinner and show packages in conjunction with LaBella Restaurant. But you really shouldn’t need extra incentive to see this production.

If you liked Funny Money, Two Into One, and Star Wars, you’ll enjoy this show. Don’t base your decision to see it so much on your fondness for Star Wars, though. This performance is well worth seeing more than once. Further, the show is educational – if you’re planning on having an affair, you may want to take notes on what not to do. Visit the website at or email for more information.