There is a vein of comedy in which characters are presented with a situation, and they make a really bad choice to deal with it.
Then another bad situation is pressed upon them, and the previous bad decision forces them to make another bad decision, and it just keeps getting worse– and funnier.
Such is the case with the Archbold Community Theatre production of “Happy Hollandaise!” which takes place in England on a Christmas Eve.
It starts out when Claire Finley, played by Teresa Van Sickle, Archbold, is preparing a lovely Christmas Eve dinner for the new vicar in town when her father, Philip, gets hit on the head and begins reliving some of his greatest roles.
Rather than, say, taking Dad to the hospital, Claire and her brother George decide they have to hide him for the dinner to come off.
And it just keeps on piling up, until eventually, you have a man impersonating a woman, two guests, including an almost-ready-to-deliver pregnant woman who arrive two hours early, and a woman knocked unconscious multiple times and hidden to keep the charade going.
And as if that’s not enough, throw in two bumbling burglars and an equally bumbling police detective.
The production features some veteran ACT actors.
Claire is responsible for this Christmas Eve dinnerturned disaster.
Van Sickle gives her usual strong performance, working with the British accent. She gives us sighs and emotions in all the right places.
Jason Westrick, Wauseon, is Claire’s brother George, who ends up trying to pass as a woman. He does a great job with his role, playing the brother who gets conned into participating in Claire’s plan.
Jeff Roth, Pettisville, has one of the hardest jobs in the show. He has to be “a character within a character” when he is required to play not just a British stage actor, but also a masked Mexican vigilante (think “Zorro”), an Irish priest, and even the Phantom of the Opera briefly.
It must be difficult keeping the accents and characters straight, but he does it perfectly.
Jeff Patterson, Archbold, is the bumbling burglar, Larry Finch, “The Lone Wolf.” Jeff gives Larry a perfect never-slip accent, and his bumbling is excellent.
Randy Stuckey, West Unity, plays Archie Abernathy, a detective inspector. He gives a solid performance.
His character is only slightly less bumbling than Patterson. He has a couple of really funny bits when addressing someone with limited English skills.
Lindsay Bialorucki is Irene Quigley, Larry’s apprentice.
While an apprentice thief from America, she manages to pull back some of Larry’s bumbling. At least she doesn’t have to work with an accent.
The newcomer is Robin Kiefer, who plays Vilma Hasenofeffer, the German cook, who is stereotypically German. She has perhaps the hardest accent to master, but does a great job bossing people around.
“Happy Hollandaise!” is not a side-splitter. You won’t be rolling in the aisles laughing uncontrollably, but it is funny, and there are some great jokes in it.
It’s another chance to get out and see real people, friends and neighbors, performing real, live theatre on stage.
It’s a great evening of entertainment, well worth the trip to Giffey Hall in the Ridgeville Corners Theatre District.
There are two more chances to see the ACT production of “Happy Hollandaise!” The show goes on Friday and Saturday, Dec. 8-9, at 7:30 pm.–David Pugh