- OnStage Calgary Critic
Director James Noonan took on the challenge of a multi-affair scenario three years ago in “Boeing Boeing” and now he’s back with this hilarious tale of two wives in Morpheus Theatre’s season opener: “Run For Your Wife.” I attended the two act farce written by Ray Cooney, on Friday September 23rd, which follows a slightly eccentric John Smith (executed brilliantly by Stephen Gomori) as he tries to balance his two wives, two nosey detectives, two proactive neighbours, and a presumptuous reporter (Mackenzie McDonald) all in the span of a few hours.
We travel back and forth between two houses (with a fantastically creative set design by Bill Brown) that intertwine in not only plot, but blocking as well. The wives, Mary and Barbara Smith each brought a unique character to the stage. While Charlotte Nixon’s Barbra was abrasive and bold but hilariously naive, I found Sarah Gibbs’ Mary to be weak in execution with a lot of great moments and ultimately, very quiet. The material she had was hysterical and one-sided so I applaud what she was able to do with this character but I found her to be lacking conviction as she presented her character.
Detective Sergeant Porterhouse, played by Murray Melnychuk was kindly and innocent, difficult to understand over the laughter of the audience, and a generally sweet character to watch bumble around. His foil, Detective Sergeant Troughton played by Randolph West was rigid (in character, not in acting) and astute, leaping to conclusions that lead to hilarious hijinks while remaining properly British.
That would be my one contention with the evening’s performance. I had no idea when or where I was. I used the context clues to determine that we’re in 1980s England, but only one character had an accent, one of them almost had a Boston accent, and the rest were using a normal tone. In most cases I would say: if you can’t do the accent then don’t do it. However, I would prefer that the characters were consistent above all else.
My personal favourite was Michael Armstrong’s portrayal of Stanley Gardner (nosey neighbour number one). I found him animated, engaging and physically hilarious to watch. I thoroughly enjoyed his performance.
And then there’s Bobby Franklin, nosey neighbour number two, played by Jonathan Martin. I wasn’t sure whether to laugh or be offended by the flamboyantly gay stereotype who flounced in and out. While I found Mr. Martin’s performance to be humorous and well executed, I question the purpose of the character at all – other than to add to the hilarious hijinks, of course.
Situational comedy at its best.
This is a very character driven show, exhausting for the actors and the type of show I always prefer to watch. I think it is the perfect kind of performance to sit back and enjoy; with laughter, oohs and ahhs, and plenty of gasps to go around. I found much enjoyment in hearing the audience reaction as they saw what was coming long before the characters did. While I did have some trouble hearing the actors in the Victor Mitchell Theatre, the physical humour more than made up for it.
I recommend this laugh riot as a fun night out with the wife (or wives, if you’re feeling brave). Just watch it all unfold; you won’t believe how twisted things get.
“Run For Your Wife” is playing at the Pumphouse Theatre (in the Victor Mitchell) until October 1st. Get your tickets now.