DUMMERSTON -- Long before Woody Allen became a punchline he was a devastatingly funny joke writer, and in 1966 he wrote his first and, perhaps funniest play, "Don't Drink the Water."

Opening Friday at Evening Star Grange in Dummerston Center and running through May 11, the Vermont Theatre Company presents "Don't Drink the Water," a comedic Cold War romp that still has the power to leave audiences in stitches.

Though some of the references are of its time -- Ed Sullivan, Sonny Liston, Walter Lippman, Lawrence of Arabia, the World's Fair and Greenwich Village hipsters all find themselves skewered by Allen's sharp wit -- "Don't Drink the Water" is pure fun for any time.

"I am delighted to direct this play because it is flawlessly ridiculous: a precious gem of American comic theater," stated Director Marilyn D. Tullgren on the Vermont Theatre Company website. "Love blossoms and tempers flare in this old-fashioned screwball comedy that is guaranteed to make you laugh out loud with its memorable one-liners and unforgettable characters."

"Don't Drink the Water" is the hilarious story of an American family from New Jersey on vacation in a country behind the Iron Curtain who find themselves in hot water when the father accidentally takes a picture of a military installation. They rush into the nearby American Embassy two steps ahead of the police, who suspect them of spying, but, as it turns out, the Embassy isn't much of a refuge when they find that the Ambassador is absent, and his totally incompetent son is in charge.


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A large crowd gathers outside the Embassy demanding the arrest of the family, while a volatile flustered cook, a crack-pot priest who thinks he's a magician and a punctilious rat assistant to the ambassador provide a mayhem-laden and laugh-filled backdrop to the family's frantic attempt to escape. Sprinkle in a love story to all this mayhem, and you have a play that the New York Daily News praised, saying "Allen's imagination is daffy, the sense of the ridiculous is keen and gags snap, crackle and pop."

The cast includes Mark Tullgren, Nancy Stephens, Michelle Ross, Frances Hauert, John Ogorzalek, Bruce Holloway, Ran3dy Bright, Ian Hefele, Dan Bennett, Jim Bombicino, Nora Bright, Brenda Seitz and Mike Jerald.

Performances are at 7:30 p.m., on May 2-4 and May 8-10, with Sunday matinees at 3 p.m., on May 4 and 11.

General admission is $15, $12 for students and seniors and $12 for everyone on Thursdays and Sundays.

Make reservations at 802-258-1344 or vtcreservations@gmail.com.

This year is Vermont Theatre Company's 30th anniversary. VTC is a non-profit community theater company based in Brattleboro, dedicated to providing area audiences with high quality live performances and to encourage new people to join our efforts by always holding open auditions for all productions. For more information about the play and the Vermont Theatre Company, visit www.vermonttheatrecompany.org, or find it on Facebook.