by: Sandi Durell

British farce is an acquired taste for many. Although this season’s “One Man, Two Guvnors” has been bowling over audiences with laughter and award nominations, this sequel to the very amusing “Boeing, Boeing” by Marc Camoletti, is a slapstick, repetitive romp ala who’s on first.

Here’s the story. Bernard (Adam James) is licking his chops and can’t wait for his wife Jacqueline (Patricia Kalember) to leave for a weekend away at her mother’s. He has their best man and friend Robert (Ben Daniels) coming over as an alibi as he readies himself for a tryst with buxom blond lover Suzanne. However, he’s also hired Suzette, a cook, from an agency. Unbeknownst to Bernard, however, is the fact that Jacqueline and Robert have been having an affair so when she finds out he’s due, she cancels her plans for the weekend. All hell breaks loose as the four of them play hide n’ seek in this funfest of mistaken identities.

Suzette (Spencer Kayden) is called upon to provide more than her cooking skills and turns out to be a clever one as she now has to assume various characters from Robert’s lover to his niece, all the while collecting 200 francs from Bernard and Robert for every lie she has to tell on their behalf. “I should get an Oscar for this,” says she. Well, she has received a Tony nomination instead! When Suzanne (Jennifer Tilly), Bernard’s lover with her smoky, raspy sexy voice, arrives at the French country-side home (an all too beige and bland set design by John Lee Beatty) swathed in leopard fur with a powder puff-type hat on her head, she is quickly ushered into the kitchen as the cook She’s reminiscent of the dumb and dumber drunken antics of Katie Finneran in “Promises, Promises.”

There are many funny moments, attested to by an audience laughing uncontrollably, as the very talented Spencer Kayden emerges from mousy cook to sexy lover, specially contrived by a quick on-stage change as her skirt suddenly pulls up into a strapless clingy dress and she’s soon doing the tango with Robert (William Ivey Long, costume design). Her antics are over-the-top and hilarious.

Adam James does a lot of stomping around in Jerry Lewis style as he schemes and pleads to get his wife to leave. It’s definitely over-the-top and tends to lose impact. However, director John Tillinger does attempt to keep the frantic antics moving at a rapid pace. David Aron Damane rounds out the cast as Suzette’s husband.

It’s not all disappointing and you will find yourself laughing as this dizzy foursome jumps and rolls around, sprays seltzer in all the wrong places and generally creates mayhem. Roundabout Theatre Company at the American Airlines Theatre, West 42nd Street.

Photo: Joan Marcus