A genuine screwball comedy or modern-day farce is an energetic affair. It physically exhausts the artists who are performing and leaves its audience breathless from following the mad-cap proceedings. The Thespian is pleased to report that Ken Ludwig's newest work, A Fox on the Fairway, making its world premiere at Signature Theatre in Arlington, Virginia, easily accomplishes the first goal and comes very close to achieving the second which may not be the fault of the material, but the variability of a Sunday matinee audience.
We are in the world of country club golf. Welcome to the clubhouse of Quail Valley Country Club. It is the day of the annual golf tournament with rival club Crouching Squirrel Golf and Racquet Club. Crouching Squirrel has won the tournament for five straight years, the entire tenure of current Club President, Bingham. The desperation of the day envelopes the six member cast.
We meet Louise (Meg Steedle), humble waitress in the club, who finds it difficult to hide her emotions from her long time boyfriend, Justin (Aubrey Deeker), who has just been hired by Bingham as his junior assistant giving him the courage to ask Louise to marry him complete with his family heirloom engagement ring.
Bingham (Jeff McCarthy), under pressure to win the tournament or lose his Presidency has admitted a ringer to the golf tournament, unfortunately for Bingham, the President of Crouching Squirrel, Dickie (Andrew Long) has poached his player. With the assistance of Dickie's ex-wife and Quail Valley Board Member Pamela (Holly Twyford) he substitutes Justin as the new lead golfer in the tournament. Finally the stakes for the tournament are appropriately high as Dickie has pledged $200,000 against Bingham's $100,000 plus Bingham's wife Muriel's (Valerie Leonard) antique shop. Of course, there is a shady reason for including the antique shop.
Much insanity ensues as everyone tries to win the tournament by hook or by crook. Director John Rando has set a fast yet manageable pace for his intrepid cast. It takes a certain talent to perform the heightened physicality and emotions of farce. This cast has that ability in spades. In particular the amazing Holly Twyford boozes her way outrageously through the play partnered brilliantly by both Andrew Long and Jeff McCarthy. Valerie Leonard's role is the smallest yet she is the perfect bull in the china shop of the proceedings. And our young couple Meg Steedle and Aubrey Deeker ably hold their own with the accomplished, more veteran performers.
The only drawback is the arrangements of the seating in The Max. For this production it is long rows of seats with no center aisle. If you are seated in the middle of an aisle you will have to go through about ten people no matter on which side you enter your aisle.
A true delight comes near the end of the performance. Without spoiling the surprise, the Thespian will simply state that if this were a film you'd want to stay through the closing credits.
Ken Ludwig's A Fox on the Fairway will be performed at Signature Theatre in Arlington, Virginia through November 14, 2010. For tickets and other performance information please visit www.signature-theatre.org.