Think of the movies from the 30’s and 40’s. Characters running in and out of rooms, slamming doors, outlandish anguish, male bonding to hilarious rituals, surprise revelations, and a character who spouts the “Iliad” when the going gets tough.
And that’s just a short lead in.
“The Fox on the Fairway,” Ken Ludwig’s gift to those who could use a comedic couple of hours, (he wrote “Lend Me A Tenor,” and “Moon Over Buffalo,”) debuted Friday night as The Playcrafters Theatre Company’s first play of the season to a mostly full house. It got a standing ovation.
The story takes place in the tap room of the Quail Valley Country Club where a bet is made, pitting rivals and owner, the beleaguered Bingham (Joseph Cavagnet) against eyebrow arching braggart Dickie (Ray Gobes, Jr.), he of the Crouching Squirrel Golf and Racquet Club and wearer
of bad sweaters.
The bet is $200,000, and ultimately, Bingham’s wife’s antique shop. Bingham is deliriously enraged when he finds out Dickie has stolen his best golfer.
Oh no! Who can he get?
Enter Justin (Rich Coraggio), the newly hired assistant who’s just gotten it on with Louise (Emily Vaeth) of Iliad fame doing Kama Sutra moves behind the couch after asking her to marry him.
He’s targeted to save the day.
The emerging delight is that everyone has history here. Not only Justin with Louise, but Bingham with sexy country club vice president Pamela, Dickie with ex-wife Pamela and 13 other women in the neighborhood (wow, how did he do that?), and even Bingham’s stalwart wife Muriel, she of the ankle socks, with Dickie.
There are too many belly laugh moments to keep count in this hilarious farce, but we’ll name a few.
When Louise thinks she’s accidentally dropped her engagement ring down the toilet, she melts down a la Jean Arthur style; small whimpers that spiral deliciously into prolonged wails. She can’t tell Justin, he loses it when he gets stressed, and he’ll lose the game. But how can she not; she’s a blurter outer.
Meanwhile, the bro bonding thing that Bingham does with Justin, stoking up his confidence as savior of the day, emphasizes the dopey things men do to fire up before a game with chuga chugas to victory and exaggerated grunts. (Just eat a good protein bar for God’s sake!)
Pamela knocks out Dickie, there’s a pushing match between Muriel and Pam.
Stay with us.
The drunken champagne scene between Pamela and Bingham in their quest to get Louise and Justin back together again for a romantic dinner after Justin’s botched comment is Herculean.
She accidentally drops an oyster down her dress, they dance and admit their attraction, he tries to teach her golf as she lies on the floor with a tee in her mouth, (she survives) then forgets he’s yelling into the mic professing his love to her.
We’ll stop there. There’s a brilliant surprise finale, just when you think you’ve finished laughing there’s another wave.
The cast gets four stars for keeping up the fast-paced dialogue and physical comedy. Pamela and Bingham are real life marrieds Christine and Joseph Cavagnet and their simmering chemistry and rapid dialogue nail them as naturals. Rich Coraggio and Emily Vaeth as Justin and Louise pulled out the stops expertly tapping their silly bones, they are a fabulous treasure. Dickie played by Ray Gobes, Jr. is a great, oily villain who kind of is redeemed at the end. And Jane Maushay as Muriel is great at projecting a just-get-it-done, Queen Elizabeth stoicism with some heat underneath. She’s subtly funny.
How this cast kept up the momentum sterlingly is what’s called great theater. So run to get tickets at www.Bellport-Playcrafters.com. You’ll continue to chuckle the next day over the pratfalls and jokes. It runs May 13-22 on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, 8 p.m. showtime and Sunday matinee at 3 p.m. at the Boys and Girls Club of the Bellport Area.
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