Comedic, Physical Timing Essential to ‘Farce’

By Audra Baakari Boyle

July 12, 2007

It’s all in the timing.  A common expression, but in the world of theater, timing is essential for a joke or a “bit” to work.  I once heard the Marx Brothers would try out different bits for audiences and gauge which ones worked the best.  As our thriller “Angel Street” came to a close and our new comedy, “Unnecessary Farce” opens this Wednesday our actors have been working on learning their lines, and also their timing.

With the physicality of a farce, it is not just learning the right moment to deliver the punch line, or perhaps even hold for the audience to laugh, but to also know the right moment to make an entrance.

“Unnecessary Farce” has eight doors, which makes for quite a few entrances and for the timing of each to be just right.  It also creates great potential for high jinks.

If you have been down to the Players since we’ve rebuilt the theater you may have noticed the new building behind it and thought to yourself, “what is that?”  That is our new scene shop.

This shop gives our technical crew an indoor space in which to build and paint should it rain.  On the first day of work last season it rained and our technical director did a little dance because for the first time in his 10-plus years at the Players he and his team could still work while it rained.  For him, it was perfect timing.

This week, the scene shop became rehearsal space for the actors, so they could work on their timing, their exits and entrances and the use of eight doors. This larger scene shop has enough floor space and height to accommodate a set. In the past, everything was built outdoors, and we hoped it never rained.

Last season we were also able to use the shop for rehearsal space for “Noises Off,” a comedy that required the entire two-story set to rotate.  That set only had seven doors and three sets of staircases. If you saw the show you know that took timing, too.

Our company member Joe Foust will also be at rehearsals to help the actors with their physical timing.  Joe, in addition to being an actor and director, is a fight choreographer.  When someone falls on stage, takes a punch, or has a sword fight the motions and movements are painstakingly planned out.  We don’t want anyone to get hurt.  So, Joe is on hand to watch the action and make sure everyone knows how to fall down, take a slap, or get hit by a door without hurting themselves.  Joe is just in town for a few days.  He will be back on stage in the fall when we present “Be My Baby.”

“Unnecessary Farce” is set in a motel with a communicating door between two rooms where two detectives have set up a sting operation that goes completely awry when one falls in love with the “mark.”  The detective lacks timing and that adds to the laughter.   “Unnecessary Farce” will be on stage through July 29.  Visit our website at or call the box office at 920-868-3287.  Perhaps I’ll see you by the bay, where the sun shimmers over the water, the curtain rises and the stars shine.

Audra Baakari Boyle is the Peninsula Players Business Manager celebrating her 13th season with the Players.