There is an acrobatic quality to well-done farce, as the performers hit their marks, verbally bounce off one another and fly so fast from one neatly strung gag to another you don't know where to look next.
Such expertise is on fast-paced display in the culturally creaky but classically comic "Here Lies Jeremy Troy," a 1960s "boss is coming to dinner" bit of fluff designed for nothing but chuckles. It is on stage through July at the cozy Desiderio's Dinner Theatre space at Bobby J's Italian American Grill in Cheektowaga.
The story has nothing to do with a tombstone, although Jeremy Troy does seem to have dug himself into quite a hole with a years-long lie about his past. It all catches up to him when old college pal, artist Charlie Bickle (Richard Lambert), blows in looking for a place to crash for a night or two or maybe even a few months and hires a "life model" in Jeremy's name to pose in the apartment.
Jeremy (given an ambitious fervor by Andrew Starr) has lied about getting a law degree; he even lied about going to college. His loving wife Katherine (Marie Costa) knows nothing of this and couldn't be prouder of her hard-working husband. In fact, Jeremy is so hard-working that he believes his boss Mr. Iverson (Marc-Job Filippone) is on the verge of making him a partner in his law firm.
Then playwright Jack Sharkey throws everyone into a truth-has-consequences blender with Jeremy winding up in the soup. Katherine thinks the model (Jamie Nablo) that Charlie hired is her husband's paid girlfriend and she leaves him; the model poses as Jeremy's wife for dinner with the boss; much other confusion ensues and you are advised not to think too hard but just go along for the ride.
The premise is pure mid-20th century Dagwood or Flintstones, with wifey tasked with impressing the big shot boss to get hubby a promotion. They use a telephone hanging on a wall and take cabs and can't reach people instantly by cell once they've left the house.
None of that matters. What makes the show and the evening are the spot-on performances by this top-notch ensemble. Nablo keeps the dim-witter Tina perfectly lovable while Costa's Katherine, no pushover, still shows plenty of heart. The two women shine in an extended virtuoso scene involving accidentally ingested sleeping pills.
Lambert and Starr are superb at tossing around their one-liners without a miss, and when in the throes of the many dilemmas thrown at them, they mug it up with just the right eyebrow intensity.
Filippone has the most archaic character, but he wears him well. His Mr. Ivorsen is the boss played broadly, confident in his ignorance that what he wants to see is what he will get. He is so self-assured that, in the end, he is the one who takes the bushel of deception and makes lemonade.
Showman Jay Desiderio unearthed Sharkey's farce for summertime audiences and captured every nuance with his direction. Timing is everything in these kinds of shows (a la "Noises Off," "The Foreigner") and this group has nailed it.
As a bonus, they spend a lot of time talking about a snowstorm that is supposed to raging outside the Troy home, a cooling counterpart to a muggy summer night.
"Here Lies Jeremy Troy"
★ ★ ★ ½ (out of 4)
Delightful lightweight farce about a lying lawyer and those who love him. Playing through July 29 at Desiderio's Dinner Theatre in Bobby J's Italian American Grill, 204 Como Park Blvd., Cheektowaga. The ticket price of $46 to $56 includes dinner. Call 716-395-3207.