If the sight of a matronly lady in a girdle is your idea of funny, then "Incidental Incidents," now playing at the New Playwrights' Theatre, should be your cup of egg white.
NPT is a worthy venture, and one hesitates to discourage attendance, but this farce by Douglas Steinberg (who also has a part in the play) was written for the sort of people who think the Three Stooges are the last word in comedy. The play seems to have been modeled after such bedroom farces as "No Sex Please, We're British," or movies like "Carry On Nurse," perhaps hopint to emulate their financial success as well as their broad humor.
It takes place in a parsonage in an unknown city located in an even more dubious country: Two of the characters speak in English accents (or try to), but the rest of them speak American and refer to Cokes and Datsuns. Even the year is vague, perhaps intentionally, and the women's clothing could be dated any time between 1940 and 1956. (So, okay, this is nitpicking.)
The plot itself is groaning with overabundance. There is enough here for three plays: so much plot that the actors must be congratulated if only for their ability to remember which mistaken identity occurs when.
There's the movie producer who has gambling debts and a mustachioed assistant who seduces the parson's wife, who is an amnesiac schizophrenic and has embezzled $10,000 and hidden it in the house but can't remember where. There are two bungling burglars, the parson and the matronly lady whose girdle has a featured role in the production. She's there to inspect the parsonage.
Everyone's identity is mistaken at least once, and there are a lot of sexual double entendres and jokes about constipation and homosexuality, and a great deal of slapstick. That it is vulgar or silly is not the point -- if only it were funny .
The production is directed by Joshua Billings at an appropriate breakneck speed. Indeed, the actors display so much energy that one is nearly exhausted watching them. The characters are cartoons; nonetheless, Rosemary Walsh manages to make the parson's wife delightfully batty. Walsh is the most professional of the cast -- it's a shame her work isn't distinguishing a better play.
In the most impressive scene -- and some are likeable -- a car comes crashing through the set. Scene designer Russell Metheny, through some sort of skillful theater hocus-pocus, actually managed to make convincing this seemingly difficult task of having the set come apart with hardly a seam showing.
The play will run Wednesdays through Sunday's at 8 p.m. until June 29.