Written by Phillip King
Directed by Marcia Kash
Performed by Kevin Burnett, Alan K. Sapp, Stephanie McNamara, Darren Keay, Karen Sweet, Nicholas Rice, Ivan Sherry, Robin Ward, Karen Wood.
Originally a Drayton Entertainment Production
Victoria Playhouse, Petrolia
August 10 to August 28, 2010
Reviewed by Mary Alderson
(This is an updated version of a review originally published in July 2009, when this production opened at Huron Country Playhouse.)
A British Farce: ahead by Leaps and Bounds
There is great fun to be had at Victoria Playhouse’s production of See How They Run, a zany British farce. There’s more jumping than running in this comedy, which had the opening night audience in gales of laughter.
Director Marcia Kash, herself the author of a couple of great Canadian farces (Who’s Under Where and Too Many Cooks), knows how to organize a farce: lots of slamming doors, funny faces, and in this case, plenty of running and jumping around the stage.
See How They Run is a true British farce, written by Phillip King in the 1940s to entertain British troops in World War II. It has all the necessary elements of the farce: a prim and proper local spinster who is sure that the Vicar’s wife is having an affair, with a myriad of other eccentric characters, and of course, the requisite mistaken identities. Indeed, the Vicar’s wife has a sketchy past – she was actress until she married the Vicar, and she was seen brazenly waving at a soldier. But her uncle is a Bishop and he’s coming to visit. Unfortunately the Vicar won’t be preaching this Sunday when the Bishop visits; a travelling clergyman will be taking the pulpit. Add to this a crazy maid, a Russian spy and a cop. What more could one want in a farce?
Karen Wood nearly steals the show as the Cockney maid, Ida. Her expression-filled eyes are enough to start the laughter rolling and then she delivers the hilarious lines. She has excellent comedic timing and knows how to make the lines work. Karen Sweet, as the up righteous, judgemental parishioner also keeps the audience in stitches when her character has a bit too much to drink. Ivan Sherry is good as the Vicar, showing his slapstick skills after he has a conk on the head, and Stephanie McNamara is delightful as the Vicar’s wife. Darren Keay is excellent as the former actor, now soldier, who drops in. Robin Ward as the Bishop, Nicholas Rice as the visiting reverend, Alan K. Sapp as the Russian and Kevin Burnett as the policeman round out the cast and contribute to the hilarity.
The set is excellent: designer Allan Wilbee made sure that there were enough doors to run through and slam, while still keeping it believable. The furnishings are authentic 1940s, and are located strategically to ensure there are places to hide and things to jump over – well, there are things to jump over some of the time – and other times the characters just jump!
For fans of the British farce, this show offers laugh-out-loud fun.
See How They Run continues with eight shows a week at Victoria Playhouse Petrolia until August 28. Call the box office at 1-800-717-7694 or 519-882-1221 for tickets, or visit www.thevpp.ca .