Theater review: ‘Rumors’ at Hendersonville Community Theatre

IT'S COMPLICATED: The cast of Neil Simon's 'Rumors' brings confusion and chaos in Hendersonville Community Theatre's latest show. Photo by Daniel Dyer

Hendersonville Community Theatre surprises with its creative approach to intimate theater. For the latest production — the Neil Simon farce, Rumors, onstage through Sunday, March 18 — Bobby Foster has created an intricate set, filling every inch of the stage, giving us a large bay window through which the audience views the well-appointed mini-bar. There’s even a small patio that can be seen through the large stage windows. The set design is every bit as clever as the twists and turns of Simon’s play.

The story is simple, yet becomes complicated when the titular rumors begin to fly. Deputy Mayor Charlie and his wife, Moira, are celebrating their 10th anniversary. They’ve invited four couples to their house for the party, but something is amiss. The guests arrive to discover a distraught Charlie (whom we never meet) upstairs with a bottle of sleeping pills and a pistol. He has shot himself in the earlobe. Was it a suicide attempt? Where’s Moira? What’s really going on?

At first, there are attempts to keep secrets, but once whispered rumors begin to add to the confusion, the guests must become accomplices in covering up a mystery they are still trying to solve.

Jonathan Forrester has become one of HCT’s most reliable directors. He has assembled a wealth of local talent.

Decidedly, the women shine in this cast. Meredith Kuhn’s Chris starts the show secretly smoking and openly drinking and builds upon that to comic perfection. Tessa Martin is always a solid actor and is great as Claire. Joria Ursin’s TV chef, Cookie, is a hoot to watch (she pairs well with Bob Reece, who plays her doting but befuddled husband, Ernie). As the new-age, crystal worshipping wife of a fast-talking state senate candidate, Beth Bristol adds to the lunacy.

As Ken, Mark Lieberman gets to contribute to the mania when his temporary deafness sets up rolling laughs at misheard details. Bryan Byrd plays Glen Cooper, the would-be candidate, with slippery glee. Chris Kingsley’s Lenny is quick with the quips and ends up being drafted into service to concoct a story of what really went down (even though no one has a clue) when the cops arrive.

Opening night had its clunky moments, sure. Farce is hard to do. But the charm of the cast and the passion of the theater shined through and carried the production to a satisfying conclusion.

WHAT: Rumors
WHERE: Hendersonville Community Theatre, 229 S. Washington St., Hendersonville,
WHEN: Through Sunday, March 18. Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. $12-22


Thanks for reading through to the end…

We share your inclination to get the whole story. For the past 25 years, Xpress has been committed to in-depth, balanced reporting about the greater Asheville area. We want everyone to have access to our stories. That’s a big part of why we've never charged for the paper or put up a paywall.

We’re pretty sure that you know journalism faces big challenges these days. Advertising no longer pays the whole cost. Media outlets around the country are asking their readers to chip in. Xpress needs help, too. We hope you’ll consider signing up to be a member of Xpress. For as little as $5 a month — the cost of a craft beer or kombucha — you can help keep local journalism strong. It only takes a moment.

About Jeff Messer
playwright, actor, director and producer, Jeff Messer has been most recently known as a popular radio talk show host. He has been a part of the WNC theatre scene for over 25 years, and actively works with and supports most of the theatres throughout the region. Follow me @jeffdouglasmess

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.