Diplomacy is a joke in “Don’t Drink the Water”

“Every time we arrest one of their spies, they arrest one of our caterers.”

At a little embassy in communist Europe, the ambassador has just left his hopelessly incompetent son Axel in charge. Before Axel can finish his first memo, three American tourists burst through the door. Their sightseeing trip went a little off-book, and now they’ve been accused of espionage!

Stage comedy of the 1960s combines broad, nearly melodramatic characters with the pace and pratfalls of a British farce. It takes relentless energy to fire off joke after joke in this style, and First Company delivers. The entire cast projects a “just happy to be here” enthusiasm, from the fussy French chef to the magic-loving priest.

Joanne Koehler and Dan Robbins lead the charge as put-upon Jersey tourists. Their husband-and-wife rapport, a dance of insults and excuses for each other, only gets better the longer they share the stage. One suspects they could keep squabbling for years—and she’d still happily iron his shirts.

Megan Edwards, Joanne Koehler and Dan Robbins after the show

Chris Medina has to fight against body type to play Axel, but he acquits himself nicely. He walks like he’s wearing roller skates, slipping and tripping over each step.

This isn’t a play for thinkers. (In fact, it’s best if you don’t think about the jokes surrounding an Arab sultan and his wife.) But if you’re thirsty for laughs, then First Company offers the perfect summer refreshment.

Additional Notes:
Bravo on the quick-change gags and couch acrobatics. Good farce usually takes more rehearsal than this.

Written a decade before Annie Hall, “Don’t Drink the Water” keeps Woody Allen’s neurotic tendencies at arm’s length. The script better resembles stage comedy peer “The Odd Couple.”

“Don’t Drink the Water” contains sexual humor and language that you might not expect for a show performed at a church. (Axel even takes the Lord’s name in vain.) I’d rate it a very naughty PG.

Presented by First Company
August 4 – 13, 2017

First United Methodist Church
420 N Nevada Ave

Admission: $15 general, $5 students
Running Time: 1 hour, 40 minutes

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