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When Did You Last Laugh So Hard?

Stage Coach shakes up your insides with British farce Trousers

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An aura of calmness surrounded director Larry Dennis.

Despite the fact that his latest show, the British bedroom farce When Did You Last See Your Trousers?, was a week away from opening at Stage Coach Theatre, this Boise-area stage veteran never betrayed a hint of anxiety that his play was only just tonight incorporating sound for the first time or that the proper stage lights still needed to be worked in.

Of course, after you've directed an 85-person cast for Boise Music Week's Wizard of Oz--as Dennis aptly did last spring--smoothing out a few technical wrinkles for a play with a mere 10 performers and no singing must seem trivial by comparison.

Dennis did confide to me that rehearsing around the holiday season is almost always difficult, due to conflicting schedules of cast and crew who may travel, but his long involvement with community theater also reminds him that everyone and everything have a way of coming together in the end.

With Trousers, Dennis ably takes on a comedy with plotlines and sight gags reminiscent of any number of films starring Peter Sellers--a Dennis favorite. In this case, the main character Howard Swerling (Jeff Thomson), an aging playboy who regularly cheats on his wife, awakes in his latest girlfriend's flat to find that a burglary during the night has robbed him of his clothes--most notably his pants.

Howard spends most of the play trying to figure out how to escape the apartment, first calling his trusted but clueless friend Captain Webber (Duane Holladay) to bring him some clothes, then relying on his girlfriend's former beau, the dimwitted Jimmy (a Goth-attired and spike-haired Jake Koeppl), to find him suitable attire. As one might predict, things don't exactly proceed swimmingly for poor Howard.

To begin with, Howard's girlfriend Penelope (Melina Marx) grows increasingly annoyed with Howard's whining and eventually leaves him to fend for himself while she heads for a party. His Danish "au pair girl" Tove (Katie Crane) shows up as a friend of Jimmy's, worrying Howard that his wife might find out about his shenanigans.

Later there's a tangle with amnesic neighbor Roland (Karl Gautschi), whom Howard attempts to seduce after donning a wig and slipping into the beguiling guise of Margo, Penelope's roommate, in a desperate effort to steal his clothes. A horny constable (Kevin Kimsey) and an overeager inspector (Gerry F. Fields) further complicate matters.

Deanna Crawford (as Roland's vexed girlfriend Dierdre) and Melissa Montgomery (playing four parts, including the burglar and a talking gorilla), round out the energetic cast, who through the course of the show maniacally dart through doors and windows numerous times chasing each other, many pratfalling to comic effect typical and cherished in British comedies.

Highlights include an "exploding" suitcase that dampens Howard's mood, the presence of a "flasher" who adds to his growing troubles, and a deliciously funny tango between Howard and an unexpected admirer.

When Did You Last See Your Trousers?

By Ray Galton & John Antrobus

Directed by Larry Dennis

Jan. 7-8, 13-16, 20-23, 27-29

Stage Coach Theatre, Hillcrest Shopping Center, Overland and Orchard

More info/tickets: 342-2000