Thursday, August 12, 2010

Danville Advocate Messenger Review of RUN FOR YOUR WIFE

Season closer at Danville theater is a side-splitter

August 12, 2010

Pioneer Playhouse’s final offering of the summer is a fast-paced, uproarious British comedy that will cause you to split your side laughing so many times you might find yourself wishing you had a third lung to catch your breath.

“Run for Your Wife” tells the story of John Smith(Tim Cox), an ordinary-looking cab driver in the 1960s, who has been leading a double life successfully until an old lady with a handbag lands him in the hospital with a head injury.

As John Smith’s lives begin to unravel, he and his friend, Stanley Gardner (Chris Kateff), invent more and more fantastical and complex lies to keep Smith’s two wives and a pair of nosy detectives in the dark about the truth.

If there was ever a parable about how little white lies can lead to ruinous disaster, “Run for Your Wife” is it.

Smith’s and Gardner’s lies start out small and relatively minor, but continue to build over the course of the play. Every time you think things couldn’t possibly get any more ridiculous, Smith or Gardner comes up with a new lie crazier than the last. And as the craziness builds, so does the laughter.

Smith and Gardner start out by making up a story about Smith’s taxi breaking down on a farm. By the end of the play, they have fabricated a small neglected child, a sex-starved nun, and a secret gay community, all in the name of preventing Smith’s wives from meeting each other.

You can tell the cast of “Run for Your Wife” sinks everything they’ve got into the performance, which is no small feat when performing in this sweltering August heat. It can’t possibly be comfortable for them, but their effort pays off with near-flawless performances that suck you into the storyline and never miss a beat.

As the lead character, Cox is everything you could ask for. He exudes a strong personality and presence on the stage that you can tell the audience really appreciates. He’s also incredibly funny.

The standout performance, however, comes from Kateff, whose caricatured slapstick proves to be an infinite source of laughter for everyone in the audience. Old and young people alike were busting guts more than a few times at his over-the-top performance.

Kateff and Cox both provide an entire cast’s-worth of comedy in each of their characters.

They couldn’t do it, of course, without the “straight men” to set them up, and in “Run for Your Wife,” there are four such characters.

John Smith’s two wives, Mary (Emily King) and Barbara (Synge Maher), and the two detectives looking into things (Daniel Hall Kuhn and Lawrence Lesher), are just gullible enough to believe the incredible stories fabricated by Smith and Gardner, but just incredulous enough to make it believable, and, consequently, that much funnier.

The “fruity” cherry on top of the play’s towering banana split of comedy is Bobby Franklyn (Matt Harris), a flamboyant frock-sewing gay neighbor who continually intrudes at awkward moments.

Franklyn, who wears a giant nightmare of a zebra-striped gown, grabs his own share of the laughs, but for whatever reason, the audience seemed to under-appreciate some of his funniest lines.

The play is very fast-paced from start to finish. There are brief moments where it feels unnecessarily hurried, but for the most part, the fast pace works to keep the laughs coming and the plot developing, so you’re interested and engaged the whole time.

It’s a good thing “Run for Your Wife” didn’t last any longer than it did, because I’m not sure I could have taken another laugh without waking up sore in the morning.

Copyright: 2010

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