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St. Louis by Richard Green

The Fox on the Fairway
Insight Theatre Company

Also see Richard's review of Aladdin

The Fox on the Fairway
Julia Crump, Ed Reggi, Michael Amoroso
and Jenni Ryan

You can't blame anyone for producing a Ken Ludwig farce—take his fine stage adaptation of the old movie, Twentieth Century, or his greatest achievement, Lend Me A Tenor. I mean, Ken Ludwig knows comedy, right?

But maybe a comedy about golf is just too dull to ever get off the ground. In Lend Me A Tenor we could share the excitement of operatic singing and very operatic acting right before our eyes. Here, all the allegedly amazing feats of golfing are "off-stage," and inherently less interesting. In the end, with a lack of obvious drama, and at least two counterfeit story elements (and a lot of half-hearted jokes in between) this second-rate farce could be called Five'll Get You Tenor.

But, of course, that's the kind of joke any wise-guy critic would make. The real problem is the possibility that another very fine author is going down the drain just like Neil Simon, whose talent has not aged gracefully. And unfunny jokes are just half the story—the other half, like Simon's later work, shows up in the form of weakly written characters and even weaker conflicts.

There are some bright spots, though.

Michael Amoroso and Julia Crump are 100% terrific as the young lovers. Bob Harvey is every inch the reincarnation of Joe E. Brown, as a rival country club president on the day of a cross-town golf tournament. Jenni Ryan is stylish and wry and resourceful as the secretary of the club where the story is laid. And Ed Reggi is smooth and sleek as the head of the club, while Susie Wall, as his wife, could probably find laughs playing Lady Macbeth. They just don't have much good material to work with. Director Tlaloc Rivas manages to keep up the pace, and maintains the relative realism of the characters, so it's really the writer, Mr. Ludwig, who must shoulder most of the blame.

Sadly, the main plot-twist involves a young man who's suddenly thrust into the spotlight, where everything depends on him (just like Tenor). And we are ultimately forced to watch the fast-motion reenactment of the entire story all over again, as we did in the curtain-call for the much funnier Tenor. I can only assume the playwright was looking at new vacation property when this newer play came out in 2010, and that he needed ready cash. But, like so much of our country, the whole thing cries out for some kind of meaningful employment, and maybe a heart defibrillator, while we're at it: The Fox on the Fairway is as over-stimulated as a bag of worms, while producing very little of any life-affirming quality.

Through July 15, 2012, at the Heagney Theatre in Nerinx Hall, the girls' school where Big Bend and Lockwood Ave come together in Webster Groves, at 530 Lockwood Ave. For more information call (314) 556-1293 or visit them online at www.insighttheatrecompany.com

Cast
Justin: Michael Amoroso
Louise: Julia Crump
Bingham: Ed Reggi*
Pamela: Jenni Ryan
Dickie: Bob Harvey
Muriel: Susie Wall*
Voice on Speaker: Matt Huber

* Denotes member, Actors' Equity Association

Crew
Director: Tlaloc Rivas
Stage Manager: Sarah Hoeynck
Assistant Stage Manager: Carolyn Cowling
Technical Director: Doug Schroeder
Set Design: William Schmiel
Sound Design: Bryce Allen
Sound Operator: Lisa Parker
Costume Design: Laura Hanson
Costumes: Raine McDevitt, Hanna Mergen
Costumes/Props: Kelsey Raidt
Property Master: Jim Ryan
Props Runner: Audrey Lipsmire
Lighting Design: Sean Savoie
Light Operator: Kristin Rion
House Manager: Emma Faszholz


Photo: John Lamb


-- Richard T. Green

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