Fox on the Fairway

 Crazy Golf Comedy

Fox on the Fairway is over-the-top entertainment now on stage at Victoria Playhouse Petrolia. It has lots of physical comedy, with plenty of pratfalls and slapstick, and the audience loves it.

The show opens with a variety of quotes about golf, such as “Golf is a good walk spoiled”, according to Mark Twain. Then it moves into the story. Bingham, the manager of Quail Valley Golf Club, is facing rival Crouching Squirrel Golf Club, managed by the annoying Dickie, in what is supposed to be a friendly tournament. Bingham recruits a ringer, Justin, the new employee who doesn’t seem very bright, but golfs very well. Very sure of Justin, Bingham agrees with Dickie to bet on the tournament, with Dickie asking Bingham to put up his wife’s antique store. Naturally, when she learns of the deal, wife Muriel is not happy. Pamela, a director of the club, is an ex-wife of Dickie, and we learn later, first love of Bingham. If you’re not confused now, Justin proposes to Louise who accepts the ring, and then loses it. Knowing that the ring went down the toilet, Justin is thrown off his game. Chaos ensues when it looks like Justin could lose. Fox on the Fairway

The cast certainly gives it their all, and frequently puts it right up over the top. Each of the six actors has obvious comedic skills. Michael Hogaveen as Justin steals the show with his facial expressions and physical comedy. Kelli Fox as Pamela has perfect comedic timing. Usually on stage in dramatic roles at the Stratford Festival, Kelli shows she can shine in comedy as well. She’s the sister of TV star Michael J. Fox. Anne Louise Bannon is excellent as the haughty Muriel, Cyrus Lane is suitably irritating as Dickie, Ashley Magwood is perfect as the ditzy Louise and Patric Masurkevitch is hilarious as Bingham.

Despite the nonsensical plot, the audience loves it. Gales of laughter, from hearty guffaws to snorts of surprise, follow each character’s movements. The show has some elements of farce (such as in and out swinging doors) but relies more on pratfalls.

The script feels a bit like a TV sit-com that struggles to create a story in 22 minutes relying on over-used punch lines. The use of booze to create comedy is also a little tired and too easy. This presents some problems with the plot. And it’s fairly predictable, especially the ending where everyone is coupled up.

When the actors land on something funny (such as Justin’s backward summersault with a pipe wrench in his hand), the move is repeated three times to get maximum laughs. Sometimes the repetition works, other times you just want to move forward with the story. Spoiler Alert! As if they are mocking their penchant for repetition, at the end of the play, the actors repeat the entire show in fast-forward-motion. It is hilarious to see them race through all the highlights.

So while the writer should tighten up the script and not rely on cheap comedy, this very talented cast saves the show. Fox on the Fairway isn’t quite a hole in one for VPP, but the strong cast has certainly landed the ball on the green, judging from the hearty laughter.

Fox on the Fairway continues at Victoria Playhouse Petrolia until August 25. Call the box office at 1-800-717-7694 or 519-882-1221 for tickets or visit www.thevpp.ca

Fox on the Fairway
By Ken Ludwig
Directed by David Hogan
Performed by Anne Louise Bannon, Kelli Fox, Michael Hogaveen, Cyrus Lane, Ashley Magwood, Patric Masurkevitch
Victoria Playhouse Petrolia
August 7 to 25, 2013
Reviewed by Mary Alderson

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