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False decorum creates farce in ‘Rumors’

By Korea Herald

Published : Dec. 2, 2015 - 18:31

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If attempts to save face at your workplace can sometimes seem extreme, they are nothing compared to the lengths that the characters go to in order to keep up appearances in a play to hit the stage in Ulsan this weekend.

In Neil Simon’s “Rumors,” to be put on by the Industrial Theatre Troupe, the first guests arrive for an anniversary dinner, only to find the host has been shot dead. But in their desperation to look decent they do the unthinkable ― hiding the body and hosting the party themselves.

A scene from the Industrial Theater Troupe’s production of Neil Simon’s “Rumors” Alan Stubbs A scene from the Industrial Theater Troupe’s production of Neil Simon’s “Rumors” Alan Stubbs
“It’s basically a mockery of upper-class society and how they handle a pressurized situation,” said Sasha Roopen, the play’s director.

The first guests are a couple of lawyers, who hear a gunshot and find the mayor dead. Concluding that the incident is a suicide the two seek to avoid any incrimination by covering up the shooting. But as the party proceeds their bid to present an unfazed image becomes ever more desperate.

“The hosts aren’t present and the servants aren’t present so these two characters take it upon themselves to throw the dinner party on behalf of their friend, just so that there is no suspicion,” explains Roopen. “But with their nervousness and the pressure everything kind of unravels.”

Simon has said that he wrote the play as a form of catharsis while going through a tough time, and Roopen also sees the farce as a way to unwind, choosing it purely to entertain.

“It’s a script that everyone can relate to because it’s simply about upper class people, and comedy is something that brings everyone together,” she said.

And though expat life is far removed from the New York high life, the play’s theme still resonates with people here.

“I think living in Korea we have all come to understand that appearances seem to be very important and the mockery of that in the play itself is something that everyone would be able to appreciate,” said Roopen.

Performances are at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday at Dongrami Theater in Ulsan. Tickets are 15,000 won and can be reserved via TheIndustrialTheaterTroupe@gmail.com.

By Paul Kerry (paulkerry@heraldcorp.com)