Farces are nothing new to the folks at Olympia Little Theatre. The company includes a serving of farce every season.
But a holiday farce is something new for Olympia’s oldest theater company.
“Sorry! Wrong Chimney!” opening Friday, is full of misadventures and mistaken identities. Newlywed David Tuttle is moonlighting as a department store Santa so he can buy a special gift for his wife, Samantha. But Tuttle is not the only one wearing a Santa suit.
“It’s kind of a twist on ‘The Gift of the Magi,’” said Kathryn Beall, the play’s director and the theater’s artistic director.
Meanwhile, Samantha, wondering why David is out so late, thinks he might be straying, so she and her best friend come up with a plan to win him back with help from hypnosis.
“This is a very visual farce,” Beall said. “There’s a lot of visual, physical humor and a sort of lightheartedness.
“It doesn’t have a lot of depth, but I hope it has a lot of fun.”
The play, written by Leo W. Sears and Jack Sharkey, is populated with some familiar character types — nosey neighbors, a criminal and his moll of a girlfriend, and a not-so-clever police officer.
For a reviewer of a production in Michigan, the show’s silly humor called to mind a classic sitcom. “Lucy and Ethel would be proud,” Pati LaLonde wrote in a review for Mlive.com.
For many theatergoers, farces are a perennial favorite.
“A comedy can have many levels to it,” Beall said. “You can have dark comedies: They’re funny and have a sharp edge to them, and they’re not always enjoyable to sit through.
“If someone says a play is a farce, I know as an audience member that I’m going to laugh. I can relax and have a good time.”
The challenge for a director is to ground all of the silliness in reality.
“You have to find realness in the characters,” she said. “You don’t want to push it. You have to let the audience find the funny where they want.”
In this play, Beall finds that reality in the relationships of the show’s couples.
“I keep telling the actors that the couples really love each other,” she said. “They’re exasperated sometimes with what their partners are doing, but they still love them.”
Sorry! Wrong Chimney!
What: Olympia Little Theatre presents a light-hearted holiday farce with a couple of newlyweds, a couple of Santas and more than a couple of silly misunderstandings.
When: 7:55 p.m. Friday and Saturday plus Dec. 5-7, 12-14 and 19-21; matinees at 1:55 p.m. Dec. 8, 15 and 22
Where: Olympia Little Theatre, 1925 Miller Ave. NE, Olympia
Tickets: $10-$14 at Yenney Music, 1404 Harrison Ave. NW, Olympia, or olympialittle theatre.org
More information: 360-786-9484 or olympia littletheatre.org