`Run for Your Wife' works

2nd Star's production shows why 1982 farce continues to entertain

Review

March 23, 2007|By Mary Johnson | Mary Johnson,Special to The Sun

Ray Cooney's fast-paced British farce Run for Your Wife first appeared in 1982 on London's West End, where it ran for nine years. Today, 2nd Star Productions demonstrates why this show has been so successful.

Cooney's improbable plot focuses on a London cabdriver with a double life. John Smith spends his days with one wife in one apartment and his nights with a second wife in another.

His precarious balance falls apart when he ends up in the emergency room.

In a confused state, he gives both his addresses to hospital attendants. A police detective returns John to his wife, Mary, when he should be with his other wife, Barbara. The tangled explanations grow more outrageous with help from upstairs neighbors in both locations.

Director Charles W. Maloney meets all challenges with a stylish comedic sense to produce accumulating madness in his 10th directing gig at 2nd Star.

"It takes a special breed of actor to pull off farce," he says in his director's notes, and he's found such an ensemble here.

Gary Seddon shines in the leading role, displaying a knack with sight gags remembered from his Felix in 2nd Star's The Odd Couple in 2004 and as Ito in Mame later that year.

The veteran of Shakespeare Acting Workshops whirls from one wife to another and confronts detectives for whom he spins broader tales. Not only is Seddon's timing impeccable, his British accent never wanes as he delivers mounds of tricky dialogue.

Although others have less convincing accents, all succeed in being funny.

Todd Cunningham, who plays Smith's "temporarily unemployed" upstairs neighbor Stanley Gardner, skillfully zings great one-liners.

Robin Davis delivers as Detective Sgt. Troughton, a shrewd professional who soon becomes suspicious of John's stories. Martin Hayes plays the gullible Detective Sgt. Porterhouse, revealing the secrets of his own successful 40-year marriage.

As Mary Smith, Rosalie Daelemans goes from a caring, concerned partner to an increasingly confused wife.

After being told that John's wife, Barbara, is really a transvestite named Lofty, Daelemans' Mary willingly pops the pills prescribed for her husband with frighteningly funny consequences.

As Barbara Smith, Susannah Hoffman is initially concerned about her usually punctual husband. But after his arrival, she seems most intent on getting him into their bedroom.

When the two wives meet, Barbara is told that Mary is a nun, which leaves her comically incredulous. Hoffman is at her funniest coping with her new upstairs neighbor, a gay decorator named Bobby.

Jose de la Mar struck me as a bit over the top as Bobby, but he drew major laughs from Sunday's audience.

Adding to the success of 2nd Star's production is the clever divided stage set designed by president and show producer Jane Wingard: Both apartments mingle on stage so that communication easily flows between them.

At center stage is a sofa divided down the middle with a floral pattern on one half and a striped pattern on the other.

Above the sofa, we see a precisely divided wall of two distinct colors so that we know exactly where the characters are at all times.

"Run for Your Wife," continues on weekends at Bowie Playhouse in White Marsh Park with performances at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and at 3 p.m. Sunday through March 31. Reservations: 301-858-7245 or 410-757-5700.

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