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Washington DC by Susan Berlin

A Fox on the Fairway

Also see Susan's review of Ameriville

Fox on the Fairway

A Fox on the Fairway, Ken Ludwig's latest farce receiving its world premiere at Signature Theatre in Arlington, Virginia, is a joyously ridiculous piece of work that might have been titled Lend Me a Putter. Yes, Ludwig does use the character template (and some other elements) of his most successful play, Lend Me a Tenor, for his story of country club members behaving badly during a golf tournament, but as an entertainment the play stands on its own.

For farce to work, the underlying situation must be serious and the characters must have a great deal at stake, and so it is here. As in Lend Me a Tenor, this play centers on a high-strung man—Henry Bingham (Jeff McCarthy), president of the Quail Valley golf club, who will lose his job if his golfers don't win the inter-club match against their rivals at Crouching Squirrel—and his younger, rather nerdy assistant, Justin Hicks (Aubrey Deeker), who reveals some unexpected talents as the plot unravels. Then there's the personal rivalry between Bingham and Dickie Bell (Andrew Long), his counterpart at the other club, and the women in their lives: Bingham's wife Muriel (Valerie Leonard); Justin's fiancée Louise (Meg Steedle), also a club employee; and Bell's hot-to-trot ex-wife Pamela (Holly Twyford).

Director John Rando is a master at pacing; he knows exactly how to keep the action airborne and never gives the audience time to think too closely about some of the more unlikely turns of the plot. He's also working with a team of comic all-stars who understand how to wring every laugh out of their words and actions—even when some of Ludwig's jokes and comic set-ups are, to be charitable, familiar.

McCarthy blusters adorably as a dyspeptic man who starts out smug and soon has to deal with his life crashing down around him. Twyford is a hoot as she makes the most of her assets in Kathleen Geldard's snug-fitting, cleavage-baring outfits, whether posing lasciviously or oozing to the floor, while Long (known in the Washington area for his Shakespearean roles) gleefully chews the scenery as a good old boy defined by his country drawl, his hideous sweaters, and his habit of mangling proverbs.

Leonard, dressed in animal prints, prowls the stage as a frustrated woman just looking for an excuse to fight, while Deeker and Steedle are well matched as an ingénue and juvenile who don't know what they've gotten themselves into.

James Kronzer has contributed another brilliant scenic design, a detailed interior with many doors and a few surprises.

Signature Theatre
A Fox on the Fairway
October 12th – November 14th
By Ken Ludwig
Louise: Meg Steedle
Justin: Aubrey Deeker
Bingham: Jeff McCarthy
Dickie: Andrew Long
Pamela: Holly Twyford
Muriel: Valerie Leonard
Directed by John Rando
MAX Theatre, 4200 Campbell Ave.
Arlington, VA 22206
Ticket Information: 703-820-9771 or 1-800-955-5566 or www.signature-theatre.org


Photo: Scott Suchman


-- Susan Berlin


Also see the Current Theatre Season Calendar for D.C.



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