ST. GEORGE — Fresh from their production of the childlike literary universes of Seussical, The Stage Door presents a show for more grown-up audiences: to A Bedfull of Foreigners. This British farce was written by Dave Freeman and was performed at West End in 1973. Under the guidance of Josh Scott, who served as director, lighting designer, and set designer for this play, The Stage Door has delivered an enjoyably wild production.
Scott set consists of one large room, nicely furnished, with two double sized beds in contrasting parts of the area, other pieces of furniture one would expect to find in a hotel room, as well as three doors. One as the entrance and exit of the room; one as the door for the lavatory; and one last door to provide entry into the neighboring room. The consistency of location allowed the focus of the play to be on the seven characters, as it proves to be a wild night in this hotel room.
The storyline of A Bedfull of Foreigners follows married couple Stanley and Brenda Parker as they finally secure a hotel to rest in while on holiday in France. They seem to have found the last available hotel as the celebration of a renowned saint draws near to the town, unbeknownst to these British travelers. At first, it seems that all is well, until Brenda leaves and shortly thereafter arrives Helga Philby, a beautiful German woman, claiming the room is her husband’s and she intends to surprise him for his birthday after he has been away on business. Stanley then has to juggle Helga and her British husband, Claude, and soon finds himself also juggling Simone, Claude’s girlfriend. Lies, counter-lies, and seductions fly almost as free as the kisses and banter that are exchanged by each character. After successfully navigating the passions of each occupant in this shared “family” room, Stanley laments that he wanted a quiet holiday at an English seaside resort. Although the truthfulness of this statement is questionable, as Stanley himself seems quite content with the events of the night.
The majority of this small cast are seasoned Shakespearean actors and have been seen in Santa Clara Shakespeare in the Park productions, the most recent being Twelfth Night. The first of these is Michael Lee, who plays leading man Stanley Parker. Having been seen recently as Feste in Twelfth Night, Lee is no stranger to comedy and provides a great portion of it in this play as Stanley navigates the wild night of where anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. Lee’s authentic reactions are as golden as his comedic timing as he juggles a married couple who are unaware of each other’s presence at the hotel.
Danalee Dial plays Brenda, Stanley’s wary wife. Lee and Danalee Dial play a very convincing married couple with their quickly paced banter, which takes up nearly 90% of their characters’ onstage relationship dynamic. J. Bryan Dial does very well as the pretentiously pompous and contemptable Claude with his holier-than-thou attitude towards Stanley — an attitude which is fumbled with the arrival of Claude’s French mistress, Simone. Allie Koller plays Simone as a crafty cabaret performer who is aware of the marital status of Claude, and when she learns that Helga is in the hotel, Simone is determined to make life difficult for her lover (with Stanley’s help of course). Helga Philby, played by Ginger Nelson, is a former nurse from the war who is also completely unaware of her husband’s affair, and only intention is to surprise Claude for his birthday. Well, he is definitely surprised.
With the members of this fiasco of passion aside, there are two other characters in this story: Karak, the hotel porter, and Heinz, the hotel manager. Coy Andrew Shinn, Jr. plays the elderly Slavic porter, who is constantly at odds with the hotel manager and plays a huge part in Claude’s affairs (ahem) with the women in his life, putting much stress of Claude’s wallet. Putting a German accent recently heard in Kayenta’s production of Cabaret to good use, Trey Paterson displays a German hotel manager intent on keeping his barely surviving inn afloat and intact, . . . as well as seducing Stanley’s wife, Brenda. He achieves more on the latter objective after serenading Brenda with his beautiful bass vocal range and a song from an old German film. The entire cast was brilliant in their diction and projection, as I did not see a single body microphone on any of the seven actors, which is additionally not an easy task to do with European accents.
While I did enjoy the farcical scenario produced by The Stage Door, my only qualm is that the program did not contain bios of the cast as well as the writer of the play, nor did I find a director’s note. I did, however, find the bios on The Stage Door’s Facebook and Instagram page (but no such luck on the director’s note). But these minute details out of the way, I thank The Stage Door and the talented cast of A Bedfull of Foreigners for a raucous summer night.