OPCT and the Tom Nehl Fund of the Community Foundation present Michael Parker’s latest hilarious sex farce, “Hotbed Hotel,” which will be on stage Friday, Saturday, and Sunday through October 6. Call (904) 276-2599 for reservations.
Michael Parker knows how to write a farce and OPCT likes to do them and really knows how to keep an audience laughing at the antics of the characters from beginning to end. “The Sensuous Senator” and “The Amorous Ambassador,” two of Parker’s plays previously seen on Orange Park’s stage, come to mind.
First class farce starts with plausible premises and builds to a fever pitch of frenzy in which the world seems to be spinning into bedlam. “Hotbed” certainly meets all the requirements.
The show is set in a small hotel in the Florida Keys. Terri (TRICIA WILLIAMS) and her husband Brian (JORDAN SCHEMMEL) have owned and run the place for eight year without much success, and want to sell it. A prospective buyer from New York, Sam Lewis (DAVE QUIRK), arrives with his wife Ashley (GISELLA NIETO) a week earlier then expected and the owners scramble around to try to make a favorable impression on him.
The couple comes up with a plan to make it look as though the hotel has many well-heeled guests and is an irresistibly attractive investment opportunity. They turn to their employees for assistance with this deception. The problem is they have only two employees; Maureen (KATIE BRANDENBURG) , a maid who is big on looks, but very short on brain power, and Hopkins (JIM WARREN), a handyman who describes his favorite beverage as Polish water (meaning vodka), which he has stashed in various nooks and containers throughout the hotel . Maureen’s responsibilities are greatly expanded, to include front desk reception and room service. Hopkins appears in clerical attire and introduces himself as “Reverend Hopkins,” one of the guests, while Terri dons an elegant dress to present herself as a wealthy guest from West Palm Beach.
The hotel does have one permanent guest, Major Ponsenby (JACK BISSON), a retired British army officer, who loves to tell stores of his travels to anyone willing to listen. An unexpected guest arrives, who introduces himself as Abdul, a Sheik from the mid-East. He looks amazingly like the Major, and announces he is very interested in buying the hotel .
Two other guests check in to help the occupancy rate. Hayley (NANCY PITTMAN) is a very sexy thirtyish female who comes to the hotel yearly on vacation. Her main interest is not the sun or the ocean, but the pursuit of men. And while her nickname is ‘Barracuda,’ but her appetite is not for fish.
The final character to arrive is Dorothy (BARBARA WELLS), who was attending a Bible study convention that ended earlier than expected. After she checks in, she is distressed to find strangers barging into her room who don’t have piety in mind.
Well, there is the stew, but we will not stir it for you. Be assured there is a lot of running around, and matching up of different characters in what could become compromising situations, physically, if you catch our drift.
This play is extremely well done, and Director SARA GREEN has done an excellent job of casting and directing. Blocking or planning the stage movements of the actors, must have been a monumental task. Each of the characters is picture perfect for their role. Each as well follows the principal rule of farce; that the actors must not think of themselves as inhabiting some world of make-believe but must experience the funny, outrageous situations in earnest.
All the cast performed admirably. We loved Jim Warren’s very believable intoxicated state and Jim Bisson’s amazing quick changes from major to sheik, which occurred so many, many times that we lost count. Nancy Pittman made her first ever stage appearance, and was amazing with her comic timing.
Sara Green also designed the set and may now hold the unofficial world record for the number of doors (eight) and exits (three) on a small stage. The set cleverly includes, among other elements, the hotel lobby, an inside corridor, and the interior of Room 7, along with a balcony.
Ms. Green, in the director’s notes, suggests that this play might not be appropriate for those under age 17. While the language is tame, it is after all a sex comedy, filled with suggestive innuendo and risqué situations.
This play opens OPCT’s 44th season and is one of the funniest plays we have seen over the years at that theatre, so don’t miss it. You doubtless deserve a good laugh and can find it there while the show is running.