Sometimes you just need a silly song, a silly dance, a little seltzer down your pants. With a nod to chuckles the clown, we Washingtonians do need a respite from the amped-up rhetoric and polarization of our politics. Some could characterize it as farcical, and indeed, how better than to enjoy an actual one, in this case, Ken Ludwig’s finely crafted yuk-fest “A Fox in the Fairway” at Little Theatre of Alexandria.
Enter the Farce. From stage left, stage right, upstage, downstage, every available entrance. A singularly unusual genre, it is enjoyable froth that explodes a situation in a cacophony of over the top characters, bad puns, casual dalliances and mistaken identities. Whoa, wait a minute–maybe it too closely resembles our political climate.
Admittedly, it is not renowned playwright Ludwig’s best work, he the creator of the wondrous works “Lend Me A Tenor” and “Moon Over Buffalo.” But in turning to a different format (fun fact: “A Fox on the Fairway” first took the stage at Signature Theatre in Arlington in 2010) he stretches his writing chops tackling the rich topic of golf and the inherent snobbery within.
There is comic gold in mining the staid traditions of the country club as our characters announce at the outset, including Twain’s famous “Golf is a good walk Spoiled” and Sex and Golf are 2 things you don’t have to be good at to enjoy.”
In an annual square off between Quail Valley and the dreaded Crouching Squirrel Country club, feudal battle lines are drawn (think ‘Caddyshack’ without any observed floaters…).
Bingham (Ken Kemp), is the flustered golf manager who decides to up the wager this year with his counterpart, a physical Dickie (Brendan Chaney). Both thinking they have a ringer, they bet to outrageous proportions, setting up the implications of the golf tourney.
Local talent Kemp is stuffy and short-tempered, plays the harried character with fine comedic timing, and he gives his character just the right blend of sarcasm and high-strung intensity.
Chaney, who enjoys zinging Henry at every chance and plays up in age, almost pulling off his persona as a ladies man. His phrasing malapropos would have been better served as throwaway lines.
Intrigue continues as our young hero and love interest at the club enter the fray. First, we meet young impressionable Justin (Cameron McBride) who plays his role with an endearing innocence. As golf prodigy that may save the day, he is also embroiled in a squabble with new fiancée Louise (Raeanna Larson) who spouts lines as in a Greek epic. Both work well together as quirky youngsters, with McBride showing impressive physical acting in several gyrating scenes, including his emotional breakdown and later hopped up on pain pills and determined to free his fiancé’s ring from a toilet.
It was a fine blend of madcap action throughout…
And then there is the requisite over the top, always ready to slip into something more comfortable Pamela (Patricia Nicklin). As Henry’s assistant and paramour, she literally lays it all out for good of country (club). Combining harried expressions with come hither, she was one of the highlights of this show.
Muriel (Lorraine Bouchard) is Bingham’s cuckold wife. We learn much about Muriel from the other characters before we ever see her, so when she comes onstage, we know a storm is brewing. Bouchard comes in true to form, even in her amorous scenes with Dickie.
One hilarious scene sees Bingham leaving the PA system on while regaling Pamela with his ardent intentions so that the entire crowd at the country club can hear him.
Set Design by Marian Holmes is nice country club drab with deep stained wood and many entrances and exits for the fun. Director Scott J. Strasbaugh has crafted an enjoyable show that would have been an over the top success if the pace kept up throughout the second Act.
It was a fine blend of madcap action throughout, with a few stumbles. Yes, it is filled with silly situations, but like all good farces, all of the antics have a reason for being there and in the end, everyone is happy and with the right party.
Running Time: 1 hour and 50 minutes with an intermission.
“A Fox on the Fairway” is presented at the Little Theatre of Alexandria, 600 Wolfe St, Alexandria, VA from June 8 – 29, 2019. For tickets to this or other performances in the 2019 season, call the Box Office at 703 683-0496 or online.