By PAM HARBAUGH
Inhibition gets kicked to the curb in Melbourne Civic Theatre’s tightly drawn, high romp take of Ken Ludwig’s “The Fox on the Fairway.”
As if Mr. Ludwig’s farce about two rival golf country clubs isn’t funny enough, here, it’s all about letting go. MCT’s director Peg Girard embroiders this farce with comic bit after comic bit. Her talented cast nearly gush humor upon the stage in intensely satisfying over the top performances. And costume designer Fran Grest takes a bow, albeit backstage, in a deliriously comic “motif,” shall we say.
The story is set at the Quail Valley Country Club (exquisite work by scenic/lighting designer Alan Selby). Club director Bingham (a riotously undone Mark Blackledge) tries to maintain his cool but is quick to unravel. He is approached by Dickie (a deliciously pompous Terrence Girard), club director of the Crouching Squirrel Country Club. The two engage in a high stakes bet on the day’s golf tournament.
It is Mr. Girard who is the object of Ms. Grest’s boldest palette — his every entrance sports a new fantastically gawd-awful golfing outfit.
Bingham’s wife, Muriel (a perfectly imperious Nadine Antaillia), discovers her antique shop is part of the bet. Bingham’s club colleague (sexily understated Rachel Greshes) hates Dickie, her ex-husband, and works to help Bingham win the bet. And throughout, we have the lovers — Louise (petulent, pouty and delightful Jessica Foix) and Justin (at the top of his comic game Glenn ‘Kraz’ Krasny).
When it comes to comedy, Mr. Ludwig is quite serious. He has quite the long list of hits to his name. Among his works are the ever popular “Lend Me a Tenor,” “Moon Over Buffalo,” “Crazy for You,” and “The Game’s Afoot,” which enjoyed a terrific production on MCT’s stage last season. Be sure to read his learned essay about the provenance of farce…it appears in the program book.
Here, the playwright imbues his farce with a touch of Shakespeare. You’ll notice it in a number of references to specific lines. And, the plays’ final speech given by Louise is highly evocative of Puck’s final speech in “Midsummer Night’s Dream.”
Mr. Ludwig also breaks fourth wall at the beginning of each act, when characters speak directly to the audience. That conceit helps in the sudden departure from the interior setting of Quail Valley Country Club lounge to the outdoor putting green on the 18th hole.
It makes it all so theatrical. And, the performances here make it all such a tasty delight.
This is a review of a preview performance…but the show was so good it could have rightly served as opening night.
SIDE O’ GRITS: “The Fox on the Fairway” runs through Sept. 13 at Melbourne Civic Theatre, 817 E. Strawbridge Ave., Melbourne. $23 seniors/students/military and $25 general. Call 321-723-6935 or visit www.MyMCT.org.