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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, November 19, 2005

'Flaming Idiots' afire with energy, hilarity

By Joseph T. Rozmiarek
Special to The Advertiser

Phil (Daryl Emanuel) has Carl (Jason Dusewicz) in a choke hold after a mixup in "Flaming Idiots."

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Manoa Valley Theatre

7:30 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesdays-Thursdays (except Thanksgiving), 8 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays and 4 p.m. Sundays, through Dec. 4.

$25 general, $20 seniors and military, $15 25 and younger


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The new play at Manoa Valley Theatre starts at 9.5 on the energy scale and never lets up even when we wish it might.

"Flaming Idiots," by Tom Rooney, is a contemporary farce. And to be sure we don't forget that, director Scott Rogers stages it with lots of yelling at a breakneck pace and an average of one door slam per minute.

It's the story of two young, unemployed postal workers who with absolutely no experience decide to open their own restaurant. A nearby eatery is swamped with customers because a murder happened in its dining room. So, to drum up business, the boys set about staging a fake murder of their own.

Even before they start wheeling an ashen mannequin in and out of the walk-in freezer, the show abounds with sight gags.

The neighborhood mounted policeman likes to park his horse just outside the kitchen. Every time the restaurant critic changes her outfit, she manages to catch her hem, exposing an ample view of her red underwear. And the deaf cook warns the police by rapping out Morse code on the telephone with a kitchen knife.

Aside from nearly 200 entrances and exits, not much happens in the show's two acts and two hours. But a clutch of colorful characters expends a lot of animation on the minimal plot.

Daryl Emanuel and Jason Dusewicz, in the two lead roles, have timed their dialogue and physical comedy to the split second, executing the exhausting pace like battery bunnies.

David Starr is a not-too-bright cop who can hold a prolonged conversation with a dead man. Nicholas Gianforti is the Hispanic busboy who claims to be Norwegian, clutches a suspicious briefcase and kisses boots when suspected of money laundering.

Perhaps the show's best scene, and a welcome relief from all the noise, involves Buck Ashford as Louie an aged and hard-of-hearing hit man. Louie pauses before he speaks, mostly because he has lost his train of thought, and fills in the awkward gaps by pensively dunking his tie in his coffee.

"Flaming Idiots" requires no thought or concentration and gives a good time. But the MVT production leaves one wondering whether it might be even funnier with a bit of moderation.