COURTESY MANOA VALLEY THEATRE
Police officer Task (David Starr) waxes eloquent about doughnuts to restaurateurs Phil (Daryl Emanuel) and Carl (Jason Dusewicz), as chef Bernadette (Brenda Lee Hillebrenner) desperately tries to alert Task to the restaurant owners' plot.
Restaurant hi-jinks make for shallow laughs
The comedic fare offered in Manoa Valley Theatre's latest production is, well, fair. The broad laughs in "Flaming Idiots" represent the safe kind of theatrical "entree" that community theaters across the country offer up to faithful audiences without fear of indigestion, or canceled season tickets.
Presented by Manoa Valley Theatre, continues at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 4 p.m. Sundays through Dec. 4; and at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 30 and Dec. 1. Tickets are $25, with discounts for seniors, military and students. Call 988-6131.
Tom Rooney's 1992 New American Comedy Festival award-winner plays like an extended, and wearying, TV sitcom. Take a couple of mismatched, crazy guys, their harebrained scheme to draw customers to their new gourmet restaurant (kill an already dead "customer") and a loony bunch of supporting characters, stir well -- and you have separate ingredients that don't mesh into one appetizing meal.
There's more true, and unforced, comedy in the Louis Prima songs that play over the speakers during the between-scene blackouts than on stage.
Everybody's playing types in "Flaming Idiots." There's the brash, know-it-all Phil (Daryl Emanuel) and his dimwitted partner-in-crime, Carl (Jason Dusewicz), who figure out that more money can be made in the restaurant business than in their dead-end postal service jobs.
As first-timers in the service biz, they quickly assemble a colorful staff that includes Ernesto the Spanish waiter (Nicholas B. Gianforti), who's in on the money-laundering scheme behind the restaurant's financing; Eugene the busboy/aspiring actor (Tomás Felix-Neal), who could give Cyrano de Bergerac a run for his money; and Bernadette the top-flight chef (Brenda Lee Hillebrenner), who's deaf, of course.
Director Scott Rogers tries to get the most out of his cast, and some of the more experienced ones have their genuinely funny moments.
Those who show a talent for pulling out the yuks include Gianforti, David Starr as the not-very-observant mounted policeman with a hankering for doughnuts (of course), and Buck Ashford, whose single-minded portrayal of the befuddled hit man Louie is the best thing about this production.