Center Stage: ‘A Fox On the Fairway’ is a delicious delightful comedy
As Artistic Director Greg Logenhagen welcomed the excited opening night audience to the Florida Repertory Theatre’s 22nd season, I couldn’t help reflecting on how many wonderful performances have been presented at the Arcade Theatre. How lucky we are to have live professional theater in not one but two unique venues in downtown Fort Myers – and with ticket prices at rock bottom rates. Broadway performance values with top Equity actors, great plays, directed by first-class directors, with sets and costumes by the best people in their craft. Just let me remind you what none other than the Wall Street Journal called the Florida Rep “One of America’s top Repertory Companies.” Not bad, huh?
“A Fox On the Fairway,” the current offering ill Nov. 20, was written by Ken Ludwig. In this play, Ludwig pays tribute to all of those sharp-witted English farces of the 1930s and ’40s. This delightfully, witty romp pokes fun at the “upper crust English” hoi poloi who attend and belong to private country clubs. (Characteristically think) Mistaken identities, slamming doors, over-the-top romantic scenarios, all taking place in one set. The one difference in this zany comedy is it is all about golf – which, according to Ludwig, is man’s ongoing love affair with golf.
This farcical romp begins in the lobby of the Quail Valley Country Club. The first action starts with the actors running out on stage to deliver some famous quotes about golf, such as Mark Twain’s “Golf is a good walk spoiled, or another quote (by whom I can’t remember) “golf and sex are the two things you don’t have to good at to enjoy.” Well you get the idea, how this show will play for the next 55 minutes.
The comedy begins during the annual square off between two rival country clubs. Quail Valley (our team) is challenged by the dreaded Crouching Squirrel Country Club to see which is the better at playing the game. The battle lines are drawn when the two golf club managers decide to set an outrageous wager this year (each of them thinks they have a ringer of a golf pro). The set up is perfect since both managers have the same golf pro in mind. Well you get the picture; like any good farce comedy the plot is convoluted, but fun. The problem for me is, I find golf about as exciting as watching paint dry. And since that is my take, I was afraid I wouldn’t get what Ludwig was poking fun at in referencing this sport. How wrong I was. Thanks to Director Chris Clavelli, along with an excellent cast of Equity professional actors consisting of: David Breitbarth, Kate Hampton, Patricia Idlette, William McNulty. Matthew Goodrich and Betsy Helmer; all of whom hit a hole-in-one in the laugh department. They got me laughing so hard that my sides hurt. What a gut buster and what a way to kick off the 22nd season. Oops mustn’t forget to also acknowledge the input of that hard-working Executive Director John Martin, as well kudos to Set Designer Jim Hunter and goofy golf put-together costumes by Alice Neff. All these folks contribute greatly to the great stuff we see on the stage of the Florida Rep.
“A Fox On The Fairway” will be holding forth till Nov. 20 so my advice is hop over to the phone and call the Box Office at 239-332-4488 now before this delicious, delightful comedy disappears. Remember when you phone to remind ’em Marsha sent you.