Review: 'Fox on the Fairway' will keep you on your toes

Nancy Welliver, Special to the HeraldNovember 9, 2012 

The Fox on the Fairway is the latest offering from the Richland Players.

And, in the fashion of farces, the plot is ridiculous and full of impossible romantic connections, ditzy characters and crazy coincidences.

It's also packed with golf, sex and alcohol jokes, which are a little worn but delivered in such a playful spirit it is hard not to laugh.

The play is an updated tribute to the sharply witty British plays that were popular in the early 20th century. Written by Ken Ludwig and first produced in 2010, it is a bit like a Shakespearean comedy of crazy, mixed-up romantic relationships combined with dialog and characters from a Noel Coward farce. It is unfortunately, but not fatally, shaken together with a pinch of silly TV sitcom.

It takes skillful actors to do this well, and the Players cast not only carry this off well, but they are also hilarious while doing it.

Freddy Izaguirre portrays Bingham, manager of the snobbish Quail Valley Country Club, which is engaged in rivalry with an even more snobbish club headed by the snarky Dickie Bell, played by Bill McMahon.

As the rivals' golf tournament is about to tee off, Bell entices Bingham to wager the antique shop owned by his dragon-lady wife, played by Kristen Lerch, against $200,000.

Bell's ex-wife, the sexy, charming and Scotch-swizzling Pamela, played by MaryAnne Wuennecke, advises Bingham to recruit a young golf whiz, Justin Hicks, played by fresh-faced E. J. Brewer, to deliver the win.

But Hicks tends to freeze when things are not going well in his relationship with his bubbly and histrionic fiancee, Louise, played by Samantha Curtis.

While the younger pair waver between true love and sheer craziness, the older couples play out goofy quicksilver relationships with the aid or hindrance of a strange mix of objects such as a priceless antique vase, a shrieking microphone and copious amounts of champagne.

The younger couple are hilarious and frenetic. Their eagerness and over-reactivity get them into trouble with each other. The older couples are cynical and bumbling. Their greed and desire to look good get them into trouble with each other.

In other words, kind of like real life, except funnier.

The action takes place in the taproom of one of the country clubs. The lovely set was designed and decorated by Rex Olsen and Janice Lee with a well-stocked bar of dark, polished wood, sumptuous leather furniture and huge French doors looking out over the lush links.

Two aspects of the play stand out. One is the frequent jokes, some of which are rather tiresome, while others are quite funny. The cast handles both adroitly enough so you'll probably laugh at all of them. The lines are delivered fast and furious, and you'll be on your toes keeping up so as not to miss anything.

The other aspect is the sheer physicality of the actors scampering around the set and whizzing in and out of swinging doors and each others' lives with drill-team precision. It is a great pleasure to watch them.

One of the early jokes in the play, delivered by a very funny Wuennecke, goes like this: "Golf and sex are the only things you can enjoy without being good at them."

As a logical extension to this premise, you can't enjoy a play unless the actors are good at what they are doing. These actors are wonderful, and so are the zany golf outfits they wear.

*Nancy Welliver is a longtime supporter of the arts. She has worked at Hanford as an engineer and is a member of the Camerata Musica organization.

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