Fans of farce should get their fill with Run for Your Wife.
By Kay Kipling
Audiences, it seems, love farces by British playwright Ray Cooney. Theater critics, not so much so. So you pays your money and you takes your choice when it comes to deciding whether or not Run for Your Wife, currently onstage at Venice Little Theatre, is your cup of tea.
It takes the slightest of setups to get the ball rolling: London taxi driver John Smith (Cliff Roles) is involved in a mugging incident that garners him unwelcome publicity—unwelcome because he has two wives in two separate flats; they don’t know about each other but are bound to find out if he’s featured in the newspaper. He shares his problem with upstairs neighbor Stanley (Matt Erickson), and the two proceed to tell elaborate and constantly changing lies in an effort to keep the truth from the wives (Maureen Young and Laurie Colton-Farrar) and two policemen (Ken Fromer and Fred Pazona) determined to fill out their reports with Smith’s proper address.
It’s all pretty frantic and definitely physically demanding…you can see the sweat pouring off the performers as they race around the stage enacting the physical bits of business the playwright and director Murray Chase have concocted. To say things get outrageous—particularly when another neighbor, this one campily gay, turns up—is an understatement.
The cast works well together throughout, and the timing, so crucial to this kind of thing, is good. British accents vary in quality, as does the individual actors’ ease with their dialogue (Roles and Erickson get the lion’s share of the laugh lines), but the audience doesn’t seem to notice, and as the slapstick piles on, rather relentlessly, even a critic is bound to laugh on occasion.
Run for Your Wife continues through Feb. 3; for tickets call 488-1115 or go to venicestage.com.