The Fox on the Fairway

 

By Ken Ludwigtheatre at the center, munster, IN

Directed by William Pullinsi

At the Theatre at the Center, Munster, IN

Hilarious new farce is Ludwig’s tribute to the great English farce tradition from the 1880’s through the 1920s, 1930s, and the 1940s.

Ken Ludwig on the nature of a farce: “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. It typically has a broad, physical, knockabout quality and is filled with recognizable characters who find themselves in precarious situations. Great farces are minutely plotted, and part of the joy we take from a great farce comes from the beauty of the play’s architecture. When a complex story ticks along without missing a beat, then fits together perfectly at the end like a Chinese puzzle box, we leave the theater feeling exhilarated. The experience might be described as catharsis through laughter.

theatre at the center, munster, IN

The particular tradition that I’m honoring in The Fox on the Fairway is a kind of comedy that first appeared in 1885-1887 in a number of tremendously successful comedies by Sir Arthur Wing Pinero.

In THE FOX ON THE FAIRWAY I’ve tried to touch base with some of the specific characteristics of this genre in order to sustain what I consider to be an important yet endangered tradition. For example, many of the above-mentioned classics had sporting themes, probably because professional sports have a jaunty yet competitive edge that can bring out the best (and worst) in all of us. Some of the farces in this tradition revolve around bets; many of them concern marriages on the brink of disaster; some involve authority figures brought down to earth; and all of them concern young love fighting for survival.”

theatre at the center, munster, IN

Well, lovers of farce will rejoice while they laugh hilariously with The Fox on the Fairway, Ken Ludwig’s 2010  charming madcap adventure about love, life, and man’s eternal love affair with – golf!   It is in its Chicago area debut. This is a refreshingly smart, well-structured and tightly directed (by William Pullinsi) classical comedy by one of the greatest living farceurs – Ken Ludwig (Lend Me A Tenor, Moon Over Buffal0, and Crazy For You).

Fox takes audiences on a sidesplitting romp which pulls the rug from underneath the stuffy denizens of a private golf country club. The 43rd annual grudge match between rival golf clubs is thrown for a loop when the best golfer switches teams on the eve of the competition. It’s a hilarious romp with classic elements like mistaken identities, huge consequences riding on the match’s outcome, marriages on the brink of disaster, and secret romantic shenanigans that recalls the Marx Brothers in their heyday. Add over-the-top characters, a furious pace, terrific physical comedy with brilliant plotting and fabulous comic touches by the expert cast and Fox is a well-oiled comic farce.

theatre at the center, munster, IN

With a fine set (design by Ann N. Davis), gaudy men’s golf attire (costume design by Brenda Winstead) with outstanding sound design (by Barry G. Funderbug), Fox’s production values are first class contributing to the fun. But what makes Fox work so well is the combination of the polish, witty and tightly plotted script with a dedicated and skilled cast. From Lance Baker’s wound-too-tight country club president, Bingham,  to Michael Mahler’s innocent Justin, to Norm Boucher’s Dickie Bell, to Linda’ Gillum’s sexy club official, Pamela, to Kate Bergeron’s cocktail waitress, Louise, to Laura Freeman as the butch wife of Bingham, Muriel- we witness each character shine in several moments. Baker’s wordplay, Mahler and Boucher’s physical comedy, and Gillum and Bergeron’s sensuality fuel the fantastic comedy skills and spot-on timing of these six players.

The audience laughed themselves silly and so will you. The Fox on the Fairway is a light-weight comedy that is perfect family fare and a graduate lesson in comedy acting. Fox is worth the ride to Munster – don’t miss it!

Highly Recommended

Tom Williams

Talk Theatre in Chicago podcast

For more info checkout The Fox on the Fairway page at theatreinchicago.com

At the Theatre at the Center, 1040 Ridge Road, Munster, IN, call 219-836-3255, www.theatreatthecenter.com, tickets $38 – $42, Wednesday & Thursday at 2 pm, Fridays at 8 pm, Saturdays at 2:30 or 4pm & 8 pm, Sundays at 2:30 pm, running time is 2 hours with intermission, through March 24, 2013