The Reviewer’s Chair: ‘The Ding Dongs’ is a dance of wit and humor

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    Firelight Theatre Workshop's performance of "The Ding Dongs, or What is the Penalty in Portugal?" is a raucous performance that brings Joe and Natalie, two complete strangers, to the front door of Redelmo. Staff photo by Tim Goodwin—

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    Firelight Theatre Workshop's performance of "The Ding Dongs, or What is the Penalty in Portugal?" is a raucous performance that brings Joe and Natalie, two complete strangers, to the front door of Redelmo. Staff photo by Tim Goodwin—

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    Firelight Theatre Workshop's performance of "The Ding Dongs, or What is the Penalty in Portugal?" is a raucous performance that brings Joe and Natalie, two complete strangers, to the front door of Redelmo. Staff photo by Tim Goodwin—

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    Firelight Theatre Workshop's performance of "The Ding Dongs, or What is the Penalty in Portugal?" is a raucous performance that brings Joe and Natalie, two complete strangers, to the front door of Redelmo. Staff photo by Tim Goodwin—

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    Firelight Theatre Workshop's performance of "The Ding Dongs, or What is the Penalty in Portugal?" is a raucous performance that brings Joe and Natalie, two complete strangers, to the front door of Redelmo. Staff photo by Tim Goodwin—

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    Firelight Theatre Workshop's performance of "The Ding Dongs, or What is the Penalty in Portugal?" is a raucous performance that brings Joe and Natalie, two complete strangers, to the front door of Redelmo. Staff photo by Tim Goodwin—

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    Firelight Theatre Workshop's performance of "The Ding Dongs, or What is the Penalty in Portugal?" is a raucous performance that brings Joe and Natalie, two complete strangers, to the front door of Redelmo. Staff photo by Tim Goodwin—

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    Firelight Theatre Workshop's performance of "The Ding Dongs, or What is the Penalty in Portugal?" is a raucous performance that brings Joe and Natalie, two complete strangers, to the front door of Redelmo. Staff photo by Tim Goodwin—

Published: 9/22/2021 4:27:21 PM

You’re in your bathrobe and not expecting any visitors, but suddenly the front doorbell rings. Do you answer it?

That is the question facing Redelmo in Firelight Theatre Workshop’s ongoing production of “The Ding Dongs, or What is the Penalty in Portugal?” written by Brenda Withers.

Redelmo “opens” up the door to find Joe and Natalie on the other side. Joe, played by Jason Lambert, and Natalie (Laura Carden) are a lot to handle right away and are set on coming inside. Joe grew up in the house and Natalie wants nothing more than to take a look around.

Redelmo, portrayed by Eddie Gomez, is at first reluctant – as just about anybody would be in a situation where two perfect strangers are asking to enter your personal space. What ensues is an evening of raucous comedy, confusing conversations and an ending that you likely won’t see coming.

It is a return to in-person performances for Firelight, but in the interest of health and safety, “The Ding Dongs” is being produced outdoors, in parking lots around the region. The set is simple, as the door (which is merely a frame to a door) is on wheels, and moved around the space throughout the performance. The ability for the three actors to glide the door across the asphalt gives a bit of a dance feel to the show, rather than a stationary piece in one specific location since so much of the on-stage work revolves around the door. Within the door, there are two more props, another door frame and window that come out as the show progresses as more of the home scene is set. There’s also a small couch, that truly invites you into Redelmo’s living room.

Now while Redelmo is unsure of letting these strangers in his home, trying to come up with a number of excuses to close the door, he finally relents. Although it wasn’t exactly a decision he made but more the result of the couple’s pushy nature that got them inside.

“I have to come right out and ask, can we come in?” Joe said at one point. Natalie later followed with “we just want to come inside. Why don’t you just let us in?”

Joe has many fond memories of the home, the time his brother broke his tooth on the front steps, the pencil markings on the wall that chronicled his childhood growth.

The conversations between the three are disjointed and hilarious, covering topics like deja vu, how things change and strange noises, becoming less about the house and more about the real reason Joe and Natalie made the unannounced trip.

Then a box shows up addressed to Joe and Natalie. And then more. What’s inside the boxes is anyone’s guess.

Gomez gives an impressive performance as Redelmo, using expressive facial reactions to showcase what every person in that awkward situation would be going through.

Lambert and Carden play off each other so well. Joe is a boisterous character and his outfit will have you laughing on the inside even before any of his words have you doing so on the outside. Natalie, who also has an incredible pairing of clothes, is confident and tells it like it is, and is the kind of person who will not take no for an answer.

The journey through the story will have you greatly anticipating what comes next and the subsequent one-liners are a perfect complement of wit and humor.

There aren’t too many shows that can be pulled off in a parking lot, but this is definitely one of them. And in actuality, the story draws you in so much that the view of cars and street lights in the Gurnsey Building parking lot simply fade into the background.

The show began Sept. 10 and has already been performed in Peterborough and Jaffrey. This weekend “The Ding Dongs” will be held in both Harrisville and Peterborough, along with Peterborough and Antrim Sept. 30 through Oct. 2. Shows run Thursday through Sunday at 8 p.m.

For more information and tickets, visit https://www.firelighttheatreworkshop.com/.




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