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Run for Your Wife

a Comedy
by Ray Cooney

COMPANY : Lionheart Theatre Company [WEBSITE]
VENUE : College Street Playhouse
ID# 4953

SHOWING : September 09, 2016 - September 25, 2016



2 Wives, 1 Cabbie and a wildly funny ride! Taxi driver John Smith is the happiest man in the world - until one night, while saving a bag lady from muggers, he’s knocked unconscious. When he doesn’t come home, his wife Mary calls the police - and so does his other wife Barbara!

Director Marla Krohn
Set design/decor/peops Tanya Moore
Mary Smith Sarah Fechter
Stanley Gardner Jerry Jobe
Barbara Smith Emily McClain
Porterhouse Joseph McLaughlin
John Smith Jeremy Reid
Bobby Franklyn Bob Smith
Detective Sergeant Troughton Marty Snowden
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Fun for Your Wives
by playgoer
Sunday, September 25, 2016
Ray Cooney’s "Run for Your Wife" may not be his best-known or funniest British farce, but it maintains its situation of a taxi driver hiding his bigamy from both of his wives from start to finish, with LOTS of mistaken identities and humorous situations along the way. Like any farce, it requires full commitment from its actors and a breakneck pace. At Lionheart, the commitment is there, but the pace occasionally lags.

The action takes place on a lovely bifurcated set designed by Tanya Moore and director Marla Krohn, with appropriate set decoration (and props) selected by Ms. Moore and terrific artistic scenic painting by Rick Thompson. Each half of the set represents the home of one of the two wives, with nicely realized signs above the walls indicating the location. Furnishings and kitchen/bedroom doorways are shared between the two locations, with separate front door entryways up left (Mary’s) and up right (Barbara’s). The blocking can lead to occasional confusion, with action not firmly concentrated on one side to establish the location before moving to cover the full stage.

The action takes place in London, and accents are pretty good overall, although Joseph McLaughlin’s accent does not convince at all as policeman Porterhouse and Jeremy Reid’s accent fades in and out a little as John Smith. All the others do very good accent work, and everyone’s character is clearly delineated.

Costumes, by Linda Hughes and Lola Jones, generally work quite well. Emily McClain (Barbara) and Bob Smith (Bobby Franklyn) have the most attractive outfits, with the others generally being more nondescript (with one of the jokes being how unremarkable John Smith is). The only costume choice I disagree with is a fairly elegant smoking jacket for the character of unemployed upstairs neighbor Stanley Gardner (Jerry Jobe). It doesn’t seem to immediately telegraph the situation of his character the way that’s done by the costumes of Ms. McClain and Mr. Smith (whose outfits vary delightfully in response to a paint emergency in the second act).

Much of the humor of "Run for Your Wife" comes from a character’s confused reactions to the mayhem occurring around him or her. Mr. McLaughlin is wonderful at even-tempered befuddlement, while Marty Snowden (Detective Sergeant Troughton) has reactions that reveal a sharper, more suspicious mind. Bob Smith shows impish delight at his misunderstandings, while Mr. Jobe goes into frantic paroxysms as he tries to keep straight all the lies he tells to help John Smith hide the truth from his two wives and from the police. The two wives have very different reactions to situations, with Sarah Fechter (Mary) short-tempered and Ms. McClain innocently surprised in their responses to the crossed wires shooting figurative sparks all over the stage. Even Michelle Reid, in the tiny role of a news reporter, creates a distinct character. Jeremy Reid’s grounded John Smith acts as the center around which all the mayhem circulates.

What’s missing is a sense of endless momentum. Ms. McClain does the best job of keeping things moving along in her scenes, while occasional line stumbles elsewhere slow action unnecessarily, particularly in a stammering phone conversation by Ms. Snowden in the performance I attended. More sharpness is needed to make the farce really come to life.

Gary White’s lighting design is fine, although it probably could do more to distinguish the two locations (spotlights on the appropriate location sign as a scene starts, perhaps?). Bob Peterson’s sound design works well, with bookending musical selections at the start and end of the play helping greatly in bringing completion to a show whose scripted ending is probably too open-ended (although it provides the opening for the play’s years-later sequel, "Caught in the Net").

What Lionheart’s "Run for Your Wife" has going for it is well-defined characterizations, fine technical elements, and a script with lots of inherent farcical humor. All those elements add up to fine entertainment. If the production could speed up to the clockwork timing needed for a fully realized farce, it would be side-splittingly funny. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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