If there’s any community theater company that can pull off a good show about a community theater company trying to pull off a good show, it’s the Heights Players — and they did with their modern rendition of the 1930s-era “Room Service.”
It’s never easy staging the fast-paced John Murray and Allen Boretz period piece, especially considering its topic. A play about a community theater would be like, well, a community newspaper writing an article about how difficult it is being a community newspaper in these troubling times (of course, such an article is unthinkable).
But director Ed Healy’s cast, mostly comprised of troupe newbies, played the slapstick laughs perfectly — or perfectly enough to render the threadbare plot meaningless.
The farce is set in a ritzy hotel where the crafty Gordon Miller (played by Heights newcomer James Basile) prepares to open his new hit Broadway show — all while his cast members dodge being kicked out because he’s beyond broke and somewhat of a doofus.
Eye-rolling hilarity ensues as Miller and his cronies, Harry Binion (side-splitting Heights veteran David Mackler) and Faker Englund (Sam Greene) try to find a backer for their play, conduct a dress rehearsal and search for food, all within a few hours.
Miller and Mackler, along with the play-within-a-play writer Leo Davis (John Graham) made this show work. The pitch and timing between these guys’ one-liners — a key element of the production — really brought a modern and entertaining vibe to a vintage piece.
The only problem may have been the Heights Players’ sole reliance on quick wit, which at its heart pounding and focus-shifting pace, detracted from individual character development at times. Then again, this was a play (and later a film) made famous by the Marx Brothers, so the tongue-in-cheek tone, overall, was clear and effective.
At the end of the day, “Room Service” is worth seeing. It certainly has elements of cornball humor, but it’s also a fine example of what a good cast of revolving door Heights Players can do together.
“Room Service” at the Heights Players [26 Willow Pl. between Joralemon and State streets in Brooklyn Heights, (718) 237-2752], now through Nov. 21.