Last days – extended until Saturday, March 26th – Room Service is a hilarious farce and a guaranteed night of rollicking laughter. Directed brilliantly by BjÃ¸rn Johnson and Ron Orbach, and set in and written during the 1930s, this screwball comedy was created by Allen Boretz and John Murray and was almost immediately used as a film vehicle for the Marx Bros.
Review by Pauline Adamek
Gordon Miller (Derek Manson), a fast-talking theater producer, is in a pickle. He and his cast of twenty-two actors have taken up residence in a fancy Manhattan hotel during the Depression and have run up a huge tab. Miller plans to skip out on the hotel without paying when he receives word that one of his actresses, Christine Marlowe (Amanda ?), has arranged for a financial backer. Miller must keep his room and hide his cast and crew until the meeting with the backer can take place. When the wide-eyed playwright Leo (Dustin Eastman) – a rube from the country – shows up for his next option payment, he quickly gets roped in to the wacky shenanigans of these quick-thinking, shady theatre types. With only the 67c they stole from the writer”™s pocket, these deadbeats know all the tricks to survive. Evasive ploys include feigning illness (apparently you can”™t be thrown out if you are sick), encountering a hunger strike (when the hotel management belligerently cancels room service),Â faking suicide (“It”™s suicide to be healthy at a time like this”) and some sneaky bank fraud.
In 1935 Irving Thalberg had signed Groucho, Chico, and Harpo to a contract to make one picture a year for MGM. The Marxes agreed to this because Thalberg admired their stage and Paramount work, and agreed to let them and their scriptwriters work out the material on stage. Hence scenes from Night At The Opera and Day At The Races were tested before live audiences in order to hone the split-second timing of the comedy and the gags. When Thalberg suddenly passed away, Louis B. Mayer took over and he held little sympathy for comedians. Mayer no longer permitted the Marx Bros to head out on the road to test their material. But in 1938 Mayer permitted RKO to have the loan of the boys to shoot Room Service.
Funnily enough, this play and production is even better than the Marx Bros. film. The immediacy of the live performance as well as the lightning comic timing from the entire cast showcases this material in its best light. Room Service features rapid-fire dialogue, doors being slammed in faces and loads of sight gags and funny stage business.
Don”™t miss this show!
6209 Santa Monica Blvd.,
Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.;Â thru March 26, 2011
Approx 2 hours, 20 minutes, including two 10 minute intermissions.
Purchase here or call (323) 882-6912