June 03, 2015

Fox on the Fairway a farcical romp

As published in The Erin Advocate

Two pastimes that can be enjoyed without a high level of proficiency have teamed up to provide a very funny show at Century Church Theatre in Hillsburgh.

Golf and sex are the stars in Fox on the Fairway, a farcical romp set at a private country club not far from here, written by Ken Ludwig and directed by Jo Phenix. The ‘fore’play continues this Friday through Sunday.

In the fine tradition of English farce, Fox contrasts the follies of young lovers with the absurd antics of old folks who wish they were young folks and who haven’t grown any wiser with age.

Wendy West (as Muriel) uses an umbrella to make a 
point with Neville Worsnop (as Henry), 
while Nick Forrow (as Dickie) has a good laugh.
Naturally, the plot twists them into precarious predicaments, which can only be resolved with improbable revelations and coincidences. The show keeps up a nice brisk pace, with many a visual gag and ribald double entendre.

It may be over the top at times, but it is more fun to see actors try a bit too hard than not enough. It captures the exuberant innocence of farce, with no evil characters and the comfort of knowing that in spite of the foibles of pride, all will be well in the end.

The tension of this plot is driven by an annual golf tournament bet between Henry (played with fine comedic timing and facial expression by Neville Worsnop), president of the Quail Valley Golf and River Club, and Dickie (played with irrepressible animation by Nick Forrow) of the Crouching Squirrel Golf and Racquet Club.

Henry’s job is on the line after five years of losing the tournament, and after making an outrageously large bet, learns his “ace-in-the-hole” golfer has defected to the other side. Salvation looms when he discovers that his new assistant Justin (played by Greg Allen) is an excellent golfer.

However, Justin only plays well when he is not upset, and during a rain delay in the big match, he discovers that his fiancée Louise (played by Dani Lowry), the club waitress, has accidentally flushed her new engagement ring down the toilet. Hilarity ensues.

Allen is very humourous as Justin discovers that cracking jokes does little to sooth a distraught fiancée, and Lowry flips confidently between sensible and emotional.

Meanwhile, among members of the jaded senior generation, Henry is rekindling his interest in an old flame, Dickie’s former wife Pamela (played with sincere cynicism by Brigida Scholten).

When this accidentally becomes public knowledge, Henry’s nagging wife Muriel (played with high octane energy by Wendy West) is suitably unimpressed, though it turns out that she has a secret interest in Dickie.

Eventually, the golf match reaches its climax, the bet is won and relationships are sorted out in comical fashion. I’ve promised not to reveal details about the ending, but let’s just say it hinges on Louise’s hidden hereditary birthmarks and secret talent. There is also a truly unique denouement, which has a silent film quality about it.

Making things work smoothly behind the scenes for this play are Stage Manager Trish Hamilton and the voice of the golf course starter, Robert Hetu – who will be directing this year’s Century Church pantomime, Hansel and Gretel. Auditions for adults and kids are on June 20 – call 519-855-4586 for information.