A British farce: ahead by leaps and bounds

See How They Run
Written by Phillip King
Directed by Marcia Kash
Performed by Kevin Burnett, Phil Martin, Stephanie McNamara, Paul McQuillan, Jane Moffat, Nicholas Rice, Clive Walton, Robin Ward, Karen Wood.
Drayton Entertainment Production
Huron Country Playhouse, Grand Bend
July 29 to August 8, 2009

Live! On Stage!
Review by Mary Alderson

There is great fun to be had at Huron Country Playhouse’s production of See How They Run, a zany British farce. Billed as a “Marathon of Laughs”, this comedy had the opening night audience in gales of laughter nearly continuously.
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 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. Jane Moffat, as the up righteous, judgemental parishioner also keeps the audience in stitches when her character has a bit too much to drink. Both women have excellent comedic timing and know when and how to make the lines work for them. Stephanie McNamara is delightful as the Vicar’s wife, and Clive Walton is excellent as the Vicar, showing his slapstick skills after he has a conk on the head. Paul McQuillan creates some laughs as the soldier, but unfortunately, the character goes a bit too far over the top. Robin Ward as the Bishop, Nicholas Rice as the visiting reverend, Phil Martin 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 until August 8 at Huron Country Playhouse, Grand Bend. Tickets are available at the Huron Country Playhouse box office at (519) 238-6000, Drayton Entertainment at 1-888-449-4463, or check www.draytonentertainment.com

Mary Alderson offers her view of area theatre in this column on a regular basis. As well as being a fan of live theatre, she is a former journalist who is currently employed with the Ontario Association of Community Futures Development Corporations.