HOTEL PARADISO, by Georges Feydeau and Maurice Desvallieres. Directed by Joy Zinoman; set design by Russell Metheny; costumes by Beth Burkhardt, lighting by Tomm Tomlinson.
With Jim Nugent, Nancy Paris, Sally Stunkel, Daniel R. Elsea, Richard Hart, Morris J. Chalick, Sean O'halloran and Martin Goldsmith. r
At the Studio Theatre weekends through Oct. 21.
When George Feydeau died in 1921, God may well have concluded that the French had had their fair share of laughs for the rest of the 20th century. That, at any rate, would explain the strange writhings that have passed for French humor ever since.
Last spring, the Comedie Francaise demonstrated just how funny Feydeau can be in the hands of masterful professionals. This weekend and next, Washington's Studio Theatre company is demonstrating just how funny Feydeau -- specifically "Hotel Paradios," written with collaborator Maurice Desvallieres -- can be in the hands of erratically talented and trained young actors and would-be actors.
The answer is: strange, but still very funny. Under Joy Zinoman's smart direction, Sally Stunkel shows a good deal of talent and training and just the right air of offended innocence as Marcelle, typical Feydeau Heroine who is persusaded to get even with her under-affectionate husband by having an affair with his best friend.
When, in Act Two, the redezvousers head for the hotel of the title to complete their transaction, Morris J. Chalick makes a marvelously seedy hotel manager and master of ceremonies. A psychiatrist in private life, Chalick seems to have acquired his Italianisms about equally from Marlon Brando and Chico Marx.
Some of the other performers display rather less flair for farce, but Joshua Billings, playing a man with a speech impediment brough on by rainy weather, is another actor who seem at home in the medium. And the same goes for Sean O'Halloran as a dumb-faced hotel porter, despite an accent that seems to touch down, at intervals, on several continents.