By Frank O'Donnell, Contributor
It doesn’t take Leon Tolchinsky very long to figure out that Kulyenchikov is a village of idiots. Snetsky the shepherd tells him the moment he walks into town: “We’re all stupid.”
It’s not their fault. The entire village has been cursed, and their idiocy is guaranteed until one of two things happens: Tolchinsky, a school master, is able to educate Sophia Zubritsky, daughter of Doctor Zubritsky; or Sophia marries a member of the Yousekevitch family, whose patriarch cursed the town 200 years earlier. To make things interesting, the education of Sophia must happen within 24 hours of Tolchinsky’s arrival, or he too will fall under the curse and join the corps of idiots, described by Doctor Zubritsky as having “no more intelligence than a bump on a log.”
Welcome to Neil Simon’s “Fools,” now being presented by the Ocean State Theatre Company in Warwick. The show is labeled a comic fable. Scenic designer Kimberly V. Powers and costume designer Marilyn Salvatore have created a befitting storybook feel.
The humor is silly, fast-paced and well-played. When Tolchinsky tells Count Gregor – the man who throws water on the villagers when disturbed by crashes of thunder – that there are 24, not 25, hours in a day, the Count responds, “I believe you are thinking of February, sir.”
Director Amiee Turner’s cast plays well together, which adds so much to a show like this. Stacey Geer’s performance as Lenya Zubritsky reminded me of Carol Burnett doing a classic sketch – she delivers her lines flawlessly, and demonstrates a flair for simple physical comedy. Bruce Warrens’ portrayal as Count Gregor is over-the-top funny – he makes the most of his moments on stage, especially in those spots where the fourth wall drops.
Looking for a fun evening where you can check your cares at the door? Then it takes a village – the village of Kulyenchikov and the cast of “Fools.”
“Fools” runs through February 10 at Ocean State Theatre Company’s fantastic new space on Jefferson Boulevard in Warwick. The theater is also offering a "Foolish Cabaret" after select performances. Details at www.oceanstatetheatre.org.
Frank has been performing and writing comedy since the early 1980s, earning his spot as one of Rhode Island's best known and most well respected comedians.