Review: “Rumors” a humorous glimpse into the danger of gossip and societal superficiality
AU Players and director Kimberly Rothberg presented “Rumors,” a farcical comedy about high society.
AU Players presented Neil Simon’s “Rumors” on the weekend of April 8-10 in the Mary Graydon Center. The glamorous costumes and set design and the great chemistry of the cast made for an excellent show. “Rumors” comes across as the funnier and frothier version of “The Great Gatsby,” similar in its portrayal of extremely wealthy, shallow and selfish people and the trouble they get themselves into.
Songs like Adele's "Rumor Has It" The All-American Rejects' "Dirty Little Secret" set the stage for the mischief and drama of "Rumors." Ken Gorman, played by freshman David Brewer, and wife Chris, portrayed by freshman Kate Goorland, planned an elegant dinner party for the 10th anniversary of the their good friend Charlie and his wife Myra to start the play.
Goorland, a freshman in the School of Communication, actually performed “Rumors” when she was in high school. She said she couldn’t think of a better way to get involved in theater again in college than with something she had some experience with.
“In ‘Rumors’ rehearsing is always surprisingly fun because the lines are so hilariously clever,” Goorland said. “I still bite my tongue at the jokes, and I’ve rehearsed and done the show twice.”
“Rumors” was directed by Kimberly Rothberg, a freshman in the School of Communication. The cast began rehearsing on March 1st, and rehearsals were five days a week. This was Rothberg’s second time directing, the first time being in high school.
“I was worried that because I’m new, the more experienced actors might doubt my process or how I directed,” Rothberg said. “But fortunately, everybody was super respectful and receptive.”
When the play begins, we learn that the Gorman’s friend Charlie has a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head and is recovering upstairs, his wife Myra is missing and the house’s help is nowhere to be found. Then the Gorman’s guests begin to arrive.
The first guests are Claire and Lenny Ganz, portrayed by juniors Maria Uriarte and Sam Ferguson, and they arrive with their own drama. The couple was hit by a car on the way to the party, Lenny’s brand new car is wrecked and he has whiplash. Although Ken and Chris try to keep up the facade that everything is alright, Claire and Lenny quickly surmise that something is up, and the Gorman’s let the cat out of the bag.
The next guests to arrive are Cookie Cusack and her husband Ernie. Katerina Pappas, a senior in the School of Communication, gave an excellent performance as the eccentric and rambunctious Cookie, a chef who has her own cooking show. Cookie provides constant comic relief with her sporadic back problems, general clumsiness and airheadedness. Cookie and her husband Ernie, portrayed by Wes Young, a junior in the School of Communication, are the most likeable and honest characters with the only stable relationship in the entire play.
Finally, the Coopers arrive. Glenn and Cassie Cooper, portrayed by Patrick McLaughlin and Emily Smith, have a dysfunctional and difficult marriage. AU Players newcomer Emily Smith, a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences, gave a hilarious performance as the insecure, jealous and emotional Cassie, who believes in the healing properties of crystals and thinks her husband is cheating on her. Eventually, the Gormans end up telling the Cusack’s and the Cooper’s about Charlie, and as a group they try to figure out what needs to be done.
“I thoroughly enjoyed channeling my high maintenance self,” Smith said. “I wanted to keep an authenticity to her, so I tried not to play the stereotypical wife off the deep end.”
The play revolves around miscommunication, gossip and lies. Ken goes literally deaf from being too close to a gunshot, making every conversation with him a game of telephone. The lack of household help and leads to Cookie and Ernie taking over household duties, and the Coopers confuse them for the help. When the police arrive to investigate the situation, none of the characters are on the same page with their story.
“I think this piece, in a lighthearted way, encourages audiences to take a step back and think twice before they speak,” Smith said. “The rumors in this piece came back to bite, but luckily everything worked out in the end - real life is not as forgiving.”