ROOM SERVICE

Frenetic is the first word that comes to mind when describing this 1930s play by Allen Boretz and John Murray. It was such a big Broadway hit when it was produced that it was bought by RKO for the Marx Brothers. Though not a great success for them, it has had countless theatrical revivals, and it requires tremendous energy and stamina to master the physical exertion and rapid-fire dialogue. In this version directed by Stephen Alan Carver, the well-cast actors give 110 percent, and it pays off.

Producer Gordon Miller (Stephen Marshall) has been holed up with his cast in the White Way Hotel, where his brother-in-law (Jay Bingham) is the manager. He has a huge bill and no money to pay. His girlfriend (Robyn York) has a line on a rich backer (Bill J. Stevens), but the money hasn't come through, and the big hotel boss (Dave Parke) is lowering the boom. The naïve young author of the play (Christopher Rogers) arrives from the boondocks to make his fortune—falling in love with the first girl he sees (Jessica Blair)—only to find that the situation is completely chaotic. He and other company members (John Sama, Ronald Quigley, Alim Kouliev) use various tricks to stall the management so the backer can come through with the money and the play can go on. The frenzied gyrations, chicanery, and comic timing are reminiscent of old movie comedies, and the actors acquit themselves well as an ensemble.

Special kudos goes to Parke as the blustery, pompous antagonist and Bingham as his nervous underling. Marshall, Quigley, and Bingham deliver over-the-top mugging that evokes considerable laughter. Kouliev, a Russian-born actor in the tradition of Jules Munshin, shines as the theatrical hopeful. Rogers, though over-directed at the play's beginning, finds his character in later scenes and wises up in time to triumph.

This is an ambitious inaugural production for the Dreamhouse Ensemble to tackle as the new resident company at The Space. Judging by this work, it will be a group to watch.

"Room Service," presented by the Dreamhouse Ensemble at The Space, 665 N. Heliotrope Dr., Hollywood. Fri.-Sat. 8 p.m., Sun. 7 p.m. Jun. 17-Aug. 14. $15. (213) 891-1088.