Fall Play Review: What the Bellhop Saw
What the Bellhop Saw turned out to be a shocking performance full of bawdy humor, zany slapstick comedy, and jarring sound effects. The play had several double-cast roles, so there was plenty of variety among its four performances.
The play takes place in a single hotel room in central New York City. It begins with bellhop Wally (played by Roberto Silva-Neto ‘21 and Garrett Zito ‘18) planning the romantic rendezvous of his brother, Georgie (played by Alex Cohen ‘18). Georgie hopes to lure his secretary, Heather (Anna Boden ‘19) to his swanky hotel room and seduce her. Although he has never given any outright indications of his affection — and has only interpreted tenuous signs of her supposed infatuation with him — he feels justified in his venture, as his vengeful wife refuses to divorce him or let him see other women.
Problems arise as it is revealed the room was double booked, also housing Roger Fish (played by Gavin McGough ‘18), the author of an internationally known controversial book. The publication leads to a terrorist group seeking out and trying to murder Mr. Fish. This confusion, as well as the ever-unfolding lies and stories tangled within their interpersonal affairs, leads to mistaken identities, accidental arrests, and general turmoil.
In their attempt to stay unknown, Georgie and company become the center of a federal case involved in the protection of Mr. Fish, spearheaded by his bodyguard, Stan (played by Lukas Grell ‘19). Compounding the trouble is the arrival of Georgie’s wife in the hotel room, adding even more danger and confusion to the mix. At the same time, terrorist Babu (Eze Dike-Nwahbara ‘18) appears, searching for vengeance against Fish. Babu and Georgie’s wife, Arlene (Trevor Adams ‘18), happen to share a similar description — tall, messy hair, and mustachioed — so much so that they are confused for one another by federal agents, resulting in Arlene being accidentally placed under arrest.
With Babu still in search of the real Mr. Fish, he presumes Georgie to be the author and jumps after him…out an open window. With Georgie and Babu both presumed dead, Arlene is finally released by the police just in time for the return of the thoroughly shaken, but still alive, Georgie.
Only minutes later Babu rises from his presumed death, filled with even more ambition to kill Mr. Fish, this time using a bomb which is eventually thrown into the arms of the tormented “guest next door” (Riley Werner ‘21 and Gene Chang ‘20). As the dust settles, the real Babu is taken into custody, as well as Arlene, who is revealed to be the mastermind behind the systematic robbery of hundreds of thousands of dollars from Georgie’s place of work. The play ends with the reunion of Mr. Fish and his daughter Little Heidi, and Wally getting a promotion to head of security, much to his girlfriend Missy’s liking.Wally and maid-come-actress Missy (played by Kelsey Walker ‘19 and Emilia Weeden ‘19) celebrate their good fortune on the hotel bed as the lights take on an amorous hue.
The ending, while a bit shocking, was not as surprising as the sound effects incorporated into the play. There were three jarring sound effects that, judging by the number of people jumping and flinching, the audience was not ready for, including two spontaneous gunshots. The first bang appeared in the middle of the first act, when CIA agent Stan accidentally fired his gun. The second gunshot occurred later in the play when a character was inadvertently shot in the midst of a frantic chase. A time bomb was later incorporated, with the predictable and loud result of it going off on “The Guest” (played by Gene Chang ‘20 and Riley Werner ‘21). The loud noise and bright light, accompanied by some pieces of broken wall falling, made the audience jump to their feet.
One element of What the Bellhop Saw that required advanced planning was the “reveal” of Arlene, Georgie’s overbearing wife, played by Trevor Adams. Billed as “Taylor Avery,” Adams became the surprise member of the ensemble, using his height and acting acumen to portray Arlene’s intimidating effect on the other characters.
What the Bellhop Saw, though double-cast, was full of talent. Roberto Silva-Neto’s skillful physical comedy was evidenced by his willingness to throw himself around the stage with jovial verve. Cohen’s Georgie acted as the straight man, sympathetically wriggling his way out of each tight situation with playful nervousness. Eze Dike-Nwahbara’s Babu was often goofy but with an edge, threatening the other characters and often engaging the audience with a wink or knowing look.
The entire cast brought an electric energy to the stage, and it’s no wonder the director, Mr. Weidman, mentioned how “easy” the whole process was. While the act of bringing a story to the stage is laborious in and of itself, the chemistry of the cast conveyed a collaborative air that must have truly made the rehearsal process enjoyable.
Although this play did make the audience to laugh, the values and message it conveyed should be considered. Most notably, none of the female characters were fully fledged or three-dimensional. Missy and Heather were both “followers” of men, basing their actions and motives on male expectations. Missy had her actress dream, but she primarily planned on achieving it through sex, rather than working hard and auditioning for her dream roles. Heather, though appearing to be independent at the beginning, fell for her boss even though he was married and had lured her to a hotel room under the guise of business. Arlene, portrayed in the script as a scary and fat middle-aged woman, was so cartoonish that everyone mistook her for the terrorist, Babu. No one from the play or the audience would sympathize with her due to her appearance, yet no one would think about her miserable situation. Despite these narrative shortcomings, the play was a huge hit on campus due to the highly talented cast and crew.
The play’s popularity with members of the community bespeaks KUA’s love for comedy as much as it does the hard work and dedication of the cast and crew. With sold-out shows and standing ovations, the campus’ taste for theatrical comedy has been whet. Anticipation is building for the winter musical comedy, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.