A Review of "Room Service"
October 8-27 at the Westport Country Playhouse
L-R: Ben Steinfeld, Jim Bracchitta, and Richard Ruiz
photo by Carol Rosegg
Room Service contains all of the usual characteristics of a classic comedy, but the elements that set it apart are the wit of its script, the strength of its characters, and its compelling ability to engage an audience, all while never leaving the setting of a hotel room.
Room Service is a story that is centered on Gordon Miller (Ben Steinfeld), a producer in 1937 New York who makes every best attempt at finding a financial backer for his Broadway show, Godspeed, while trying to evade his ever-growing hotel bill. Miller is joined in his efforts by a diverse group of ragtag associates, two of whom include Godspeed’s director and playwright, and all parties involved are subject to a series of hijinks and entertaining mix-ups.
The stark personality differences and idiosyncrasies of the characters are a part of what makes the play as charming as it is entertaining. Miller’s personality, which is fueled by fast-talking confidence, is bluntly contrasted by his pushover brother-in-law Joseph Gribble (David Beach), whose attempts at making Miller pay his hotel bill are as frequent as they are fruitless. Gribble’s attempts stem from pressure by his boss and hotel auditor, Gregory Wagner, (Michael McCormick) who is stuck in a continuous state of near-eruptive anger (caused by Miller, of course). This is most frequently exhibited through reoccuring grumbles (or more often, bellows) of his signature catchphrase “goddamn it” before inevitably storming off of the stage. The playwright of Miller’s production, Leo Davis (Eric Bryant), is an overly optimistic country boy straight off of the turnip truck (well, the train) from Oswego, enamored by his new life in the big city. You know, a real Kenneth Parcell á la 30 Rock sort of guy. And those are only four out of the fourteen characters.
The bursts of smartly written humor allow audiences to laugh when they want to, not when they are told to. Comedy is organically strewn throughout the performance and there is not a feeling that the humor is too overly forced, as the script does not rely on excessive slapstick moments for a few cheap laughs (even when coupled with a few instances of physical humor). Although the pace of the play starts off a bit slowly, by the second act the audience began to share continuous and mutual outbursts of laughter, which is a testament to the fortitude of the script and the cast.
The comedy in Room Service has enough variety that it would be suitable for a number of occasions (date night, getting together with friends, family fun) and age groups.
Westport Country Playhouse, Westport; 203-227-4177
October 8 – 27