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Sunday, 08 July 2012 00:16

A few strokes over par

Written by Laura Kyro
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insighttheatrecompany.com
insighttheatrecompany.com

Prolific American playwright Ken Ludwig has been producing laughter on stages across the world since his farce Lend Me a Tenor hit Broadway in 1989. Since then his work has included a variety of plays, musicals, and comedies. In 2010 he debuted The Fox on the Fairway. Billed as “A tribute from Ken Ludwig to the great English farces of the 1930s and 1940s,” it nonetheless has a contemporary (cell phones, Tiger Wood’s meltdown) setting. As presented by Insight Theatre Company, golf, that game of “sticks and dimpled balls,” is the milieu here.

 

Set in the Tap Room of the Quail Valley Country Club, the day is the annual golf competition between Quail Valley and the Crouching Squirrel Club. Crouching Squirrel has won the past five years, a fact that sticks in the craw of Quail Club director Henry Bingham (Ed Reggi). Bingham’s new assistant Justin (Michael Amoroso) has just proposed to young Club waitress Louise (Julia Crump), who giddily accepts the engagement. Also on hand is Quail Valley Board Member Pamela (Jenni Ryan), an alcoholic, sexually naughty former flame of Bingham’s.

Squirrel director Dickie (Bob Harvey) arrives on the scene to gloat, and talks Bingham into betting not only a large sum of money, but also Bingham’s wife (Susie Wall) Muriel’s antique shop business.

When Bingham’s ringer of a golfer switches to Squirrel at the last minute to be their star player, Justin is revealed as a scratch golfer and Bingham quickly ushers him into the club and the tournament. Action ensues.

The Fox on the Fairway is humorous, and the audience did laugh. Occasionally. During some parts. Overall, however, the house was kind of quiet. I lay most of that on Ludwig’s script, that left me scratching my head at the unrealistic, unbelievable, and illogical machinations. That it was about golf at all was secondary to its use as a vehicle for inanity.

Too, I believe a production of this nature needs to be tight, the acting crisp, and the pacing brisk to be successful. These elements were lacking. Perhaps it was opening-night tentativeness, but the best way I can describe the show I saw was it seemed the set was too large for the acting going on inside it. Some of the dialogue was spoken waaaaaaaay upstage, and some actors really need to project to be heard. Director Tlaloc Rivas cast well for the most part, but I was led to wonder far too long on how one show “couple” would ever have gotten together in the first place.

The standouts of the night for me were the elements of the technical execution of the play. Lighting (Sean Savoie) was perfectly suited to the action, sound design (Bryce Allen) added immensely, and the set design (William Schmiel), wow. I can’t recall the last time I saw a set that solid and clean in a community theatre production. Kudos to props (Jim Ryan) as well. The colorful costumes (Laura Hanson) were eye-catching.

The Fox on the Fairway (so named despite the fact there is no fox, on the fairway or otherwise) runs 1 hour 55 minutes with a 15-minute intermission. Catch it in the Heagney Theatre at Nerinx Hall through July 15, 2012. You may visit insighttheatrecompany.com for more information.

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