IF YOU GO
What:Comedy about a man with two homes, two wives and a heap of trouble
When:Thursday through Sunday evenings with selected matinees August 28.
Where:1380 Colonial Boulevard, Fort Myers (in Royal Palm Square)
Cost:$25 to $39.
Information:239-278-4422 or broadwaypalm.com
Something Else:Ticket prices include meal & show; show-only tickets available
On the Web: Sign up to receive more theater news from the Stage Door blog via email.
FORT MYERS — CORRECTION: The initial version of this review contained an incorrect reference to the name of the costume designer for "Run For Your Wife." The production's costumes were created by Jim Conti.
Broadway Palm raced for laughs during the opening night of fluffy, funny farce "Run For Your Wife" Thursday night. Audiences lapped up the tale of a London cab driver with two homes, two wives, one cab and a thousand little white lies. In the heat of summer, "Wife" serves up a cool comedy draught.
Written by Ray Cooney, the show invents a tangled web for one John Smith, who spends Mondays with Mary in Wimbledon and then Saturdays with Barbara in Streatham in bed. On his days off, he sleeps. He keeps it all straight by virtue of a coded diary. When a random mugging sends him to the hospital - and after both wives report him missing to different police stations - the scheme unravels in spectacularly (bad) fashion.
Cue two nosy police sergeants, two completely unhelpful neighbors, a fistful of mistaken identities, a nun, a transvestite named Lofty, a policeman nicknamed "Pussy" (because he's always purring) and a farmer named Gardner with a load of cucumbers. There's also much slamming of doors, leaping over couches, screaming, yelling and general confusion. And someone eats a newspaper (one of the night's best bits).
While the show might be a bit light on true bumbling, slapstick-style physical comedy (it favors slightly more literate wordplay) - look for the various hilarious expressions on character's faces. To a man (or woman) - the actors understand comedy - and bring that to the roles. If the show never reaches the roar of a grand farce that forces the actors to hold for laughs - it hums along nicely, churning out constant giggles and titters.
Director Paul Bernier cranks up the energy and has the show hit the ground running. One of the night's most intricately timed - and amusing - sequences comes moments after the lights go up.
Rachel Endrizzi (Barbara Smith) and Kelly Legarreta (Mary Smith) both go about their morning routines obviously worried about their missing husband. The pair then reach for matching telephones and in perfectly synched dialogue report him missing to the police and introduce audiences to the story. It brings hoots and howls of laughter from the crowd as they realize what's going on.
Victor Legarreta brings a cozy, everyman charm to the hapless John Smith. Legaretta tells the tumbling tall tales with ease. His panicked, frantic "oh-god-what-now" style keeps the show afloat. The reed-thin Joel Stigliano shines as bumbling best friend Stanley Gardner - who's roped into more and more of Smith's schemes. His Stanley is a bad liar - and if you've ever seen a small child tell a lie - you know they're fun to watch.
James Lane and Robert Feigenblatt show their comedy chops as an amusing pair of policemen who continually get the wrong end of the stick - as it were. Lane plays a commanding detective - and has obvious fun during the interrogation scenes; Feigenblatt's flighty cop vamps about the set in a frilly pink apron, serving tea and tossing out complete non sequiturs. Look for Miguel Cintron in a stereotypical but amusing role as the flamboyantly gay upstairs neighbor - complete with pink neckerchief.
Paul Dreschel's set allows for at least five doors on the small Off-Broadway Palm stage. They all get slammed - loudly and with great effect. The divided set represents two apartments (Mary's & Barbara's) while retaining an individual feel. I like the matching phones in black and silver. Jim Conti's colorful costumes - especially the colorful dresses for Kelly Legarreta and Endrizzi - help the various characters pop on purposefully neutral stage. Watch for John Smith's shocking boxers!
Run, don't walk to "Run For Your Wife." Audiences will love the over-the-top silliness, the constant spur-of-the-moment howling lies and the priceless looks of recognition as characters realize the latest scheme has gone awry. Look for Joel Stigliano as a hyperactive, bumbling neighbor caught up in schemes, James Lane as a grumpy, by-the-book cop and for sassy, funky costumes from Jim Conti.
What does a farmer do with two acres of cucumbers? Email me, email@example.com, find me on Twitter at @napleschris or read my Stage Door theater blog. You can also sign up to receive the Stage Door blog via email.