Room Service

The Peccadillo Theater Company has built its sterling reputation on rescuing forgotten classics of the American theatre. Consistently produced in regional theatres across the United States, Room Service can hardly be regarded as forgotten, but it's been 20 years since New Yorkers had the opportunity to see what is now an endangered species: a classic American farce. It's also probably the best opportunity New Yorkers will get this summer to really laugh -- that gleeful, guffawing kind of laughter. For this comic vehicle is sturdily built and as lively today as when George Abbott tweaked the original production in 1937. Here, under Dan Wackerman's rapid-transit direction, the play is given a rollicking revival that would make the authors, John Murray and Allen Boretz, smile. (Poor boys, this was their only success.) It's also remarkably well cast, not an easy task for a play with 14 characters.

And, oh, that frantic plot. Producer Gordon Miller (David Edwards) has a play, a director (Fred Berman), a leading lady (Kim Rachelle Harris), a cast of 22 actors, and no money. To his brother-in-law, Joseph Gribble (Dale Carman), the manager of the White Way Hotel, he offers 10 percent of the show for lodging the entire entourage. Complications ensue as the young playwright, Leo Davis (Scott Evans), suddenly arrives and Gribble's supervisor, Gregory Wagner (Sterling Coyne), begins to suspect Miller's shenanigans. This is only the beginning of a roller-coaster ride of progressions and reversals until the final curtain.

Edwards leads the cast with the surest hand, never overplaying the comedy in this intimate space and grounding the play in a certain logic. Carman's frazzled Joseph and Berman's wild-eyed director add greatly to the farcical flavor, while Evans impresses with his sincere naivety. Nice work too from Raymond Thorne as a businessman and Louis Michael Sacco as a Russian waiter and an American senator. And when the cast begins singing "Abide With Me," it's the icing on a delicious comic cake.

Presented by the Peccadillo Theater Company

at the Bank Street Theatre, 155 Bank St., NYC.

July 10-Aug. 5. Thu.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.

(212) 868-4444 or