Jillian Prefach, Cary Wiger, & Tina Jo Wallace in Run For Your Wife. Photo courtesy Derby Dinner Playhouse.
Run For Your Wife
By Ray Cooney
Directed by Jim Hesselman
Reviewed by Craig Nolan Highley
Entire contents are copyright © 2017 Craig Nolan Highley. All rights reserved.
Derby Dinner Playhouse has opened another in a long line of their trademark screwball, slightly risqué, innuendo-laden (but not too dirty), farces with Ray Cooney’s 1983 sex comedy Run For Your Wife. If it seems like we’ve seen the play before, it’s because they have done so many similar plays over the years that the manic plot lines tend to run together. It’s okay, though, because the DDP knows their audience, and if the raucous laughter and applause from the crowd at the opening night performance I attended is any indication, they have hit their mark again.
The plot this time around involves taxi driver John (Cary Wiger), who is living two lives and with two wives (Jillian Prefach and Tina Jo Wallace), in two English villages less than a five-minute car drive away from each other. He has his schedule down to a science, until a car crash lands him in the hospital and both wives report him missing. The expected hijinks ensue, as he tries desperately to keep up the deception with bumbling police becoming involved and his life unraveling.
As usual, the acting is top-notch. Although Wiger has played variations of this same character countless times with this company, he is still entirely believable as the harried John. J.R. Stuart steals the show as the show’s most hilarious character, the affable best friend Stanley, who is trying to help John keep his secret. Wallace and Prefach are both quite delightful as the clueless wives, although the playwright’s archaic gender tropes do them no favors. Dick Baker and David Myers have some good moments, too, as a pair of policemen working at cross-purposes. And Matthew Brennan delivers some truly hilarious lines as the gay upstairs neighbor (even if the dated script promotes some borderline-offensive stereotypes in both his character and a mistaken-for-gay subplot that would have been stale in a 90’s sitcom).
As far as these types of plays go at the DDP, Run For Your Wife is neither the best nor the worst they have offered, although I do feel it went on a bit too long and eventually all of the constant goings-on became tiring. Plus, I have to say I hated the ending, which really was more of a stop to the action than any real resolution.
Still, director Jim Hesselman keeps things moving at a brisk pace even if Cooney’s script doesn’t seem to know when to quit. Ron Riall has created an interesting set that works as two different homes without any change in the scenery, and it’s nicely accented by Alexa Holloway’s colorful lighting.
If this type of a show is your cup of tea, I’m sure you will be quite happy with the production. Otherwise, you may be checking your watch as the chaotic story winds on and on.
Starring Dick Baker, Matthew Brennan, David Myers, Jillian Prefach, J.R. Stuart, Tina Jo Wallace, and Cary Wiger.
Run For Your Wife
January 11 – February 19, 2017
Derby Dinner Playhouse
525 Marriott Drive
Clarksville, IN 47129
Craig Nolan Highley has been active in local theatre as an actor, director and producer for more than 12 years. He has worked with Bunbury Theater, Clarksville Little Theatre, Finnigan Productions, Louisville Repertory Company, Savage Rose Classical Theatre Co., and WhoDunnit Murder Mystery Theatre among others. He has been a member of the Wayward Actors Company since 2006, and currently serves as their Board President. Craig’s reviews have also appeared in TheatreLouisville and Louisville Mojo.