REVIEW WRITTEN BY ELLEN WILSON DILKS
For Delco News Network
Ambler’s Act II Playhouse continues their current season with a production of Ken Ludwig’s 2010 farce, “Fox on the Fairway.” Directed by William Roudebush, the play runs in the theatre’s Butler Avenue venue from now through Nov. 22.
“Fox on the Fairway” premiered at Signature Theatre in Arlington, VA and deals with a long-standing rivalry between two country clubs as they start their annual tournament. Originally from York, playwright Ken Ludwig has garnered a reputation as America’s premiere farceur, having written such works as “Leading Ladie,” “Moon Over Buffalo,” “Shakespeare In Hollywood” and his best known piece, “Lend Me A Tenor.” In his forward to the published version of “Fox on the Fairway,” Ludwig writes that the play is an “homage to the great English farce tradition that began in the 1880s and flowered in the 1920s, ’30s and ’40s. A farce, essentially, is a broad comedy where the emphasis is more on the story and the plotting than on the emotional journey of the characters.”
Act II’s production of “Fox on the Fairway” has all the requisite ingredients: doors to run in and out of, scheming to be done, and meanings and motives to be misunderstood. The ensemble of actors are all quite talented and Roudebush keeps things moving. Will Dennis is puppy dog cute as Justin, the new employee who suddenly finds himself bearing the burden of winning the tournament so his boss doesn’t lose his shirt. He does some great physical bits. Naomi Weiss does ditzy well, she’s Louise—the innocent but slightly dimwitted character that appears in most farces. On the other hand, there’s Pamela, and Karen Peakes is a hoot playing this sarcastic divorcee. Matching her in cutting comments is Joe Guzmán as Dickie, the president of the rival club. Peter Bisgaier is Jackie Gleasonesque as Bingham, the president of the host club — and Justin’s boss. Gerre Garrett plays his neglected wife with great gusto. She also reveals Muriel’s vulnerable side quite nicely.
But something wasn’t quite gelling for me. Farce needs to start out softly and then let the insanity slowly build to DEFCON 4. I really think it’s the script — it’s not as tight and solid as Ludwig’s other plays, particularly “Lend Me A Tenor.” Just my opinion …. the other theatregoers around me were having a blast. It’s a great cast making the most of a somewhat weak script.
Technically, Act II was spot-on as always. Dirk Durosette’s country club taproom set is lovely, you really feel like you’re in an upscale Main Line clubhouse. Jillian Keys has created terrific costumes — for both comedic and sexy effect. James Leitner lights everything perfectly and John Stovicek’s sound is great.
So, if you want to settle in for some laughs, head to Act II Playhouse and enjoy “Fox on the Fairway.”