BWW Review: THE FOX ON THE FAIRWAY at Oyster Mill Playhouse
Ken Ludwig's The Fox on the Fairway first took the stage in Arlington, Virginia at the Signature Theatre in 2010. A farce that takes place at the Quail Valley Country Club, The Fox on the Fairway pokes fun not only at golf fashion but at the pretentions of the country club life. While perhaps not one of Ludwig's most brilliant plays, it is entertaining and, particularly in the second act, has the potential to keep the audience laughing and having a good time. The show requires a cast with great comedic timing and chemistry on the stage. The cast at Oyster Mill Playhouse does not disappoint.
First, we meet the character Justin Hicks, played by Alex Winnick. Winnick presents this role with a sweet innocence that is endearing. The audience cannot help but hope that everything will work out for Justin in the end. Winnick's best scene, though, comes in the second act when, having broken his arm, Justin shows up at the country club hopped up on pain pills and determined to free his fiancé's ring from a toilet. It is much more difficult to convincingly act drunk, high, or drugged than most people suppose, and Winnick plays the scene well.
Justin's fiancé, Louise Heindbedder, is portrayed by Gretchen Ray. Ray's energy is contagious and draws the audience in right from her very first entrance. My only complaint was in the scenes where Louise goes into hysterics because her voice got so high and loud that it was almost painful to the ears. Her acting in those scenes was terrific, with great facial expressions and body language, but the vocal register could have used some moderation. Ray and Winnick have great chemistry on stage, really seeming like a young couple going through all the trials and tribulations of a relationship fraught with misunderstandings and overreactions.
Beate Drung-Sutton takes on the role of Muriel Bingham. The audience learns much about Muriel from the other characters long before we ever see her, so by the time she enters the stage, the audience has an image in their minds of what Muriel will be like. Drung-Sutton is spot-on with her characterization of Muriel. Her facial expressions, posture, gait, and tone are exactly what we expect after we hear the other characters talk about her. Drung-Sutton also works well on stage with the other characters, giving nuance to her tone and expression as she interacts with each person, which helps to illustrate how her character feels about each of them.
Henry Bingham, Muriel's husband, is hilariously played by Josh Lebo. Lebo has wonderful comedic timing, and he gives Henry just the right blend of sarcasm and high-strung intensity without seeming too over-the-top. His interactions with the actors who play Richard "Dickie" Bell and Pamela Peabody are fun to watch. Lebo particularly shines in the scene where he professes his love to Pamela Peabody, not realizing that the entire crowd at the country club can hear him. Incidentally, that was also one of my favorite scenes for Mary Geraci, playing the role of Pamela Peabody.
Mary Geraci's Pamela Peabody is one of the highlights of this well-cast show. She manages to demonstrate her character's emotions through subtle changes in her posture, expression, and body language, while keeping her tone carefully controlled. It is a beautiful performance, particularly because, of all of the characters, she seems the most real and authentic. When Geraci and Lebo act as though they are actually watching the golf game, the audience can practically see what they are describing because of their reactions.
Anthony J. Geraci rounds out the cast as Richard "Dickie" Bell. He portrays Dickie as delightfully eccentric, egotistical, and sly, and yet the audience cannot help but like him. I appreciated his physicality on stage, as it added to the humor of his character without appearing contrived. Geraci's Dickie is the complete opposite of Lebo's Bingham, and the two actors have amazing give and take on stage with fantastic timing.
The set, music, and costumes deserve a mention as well. The show would have felt incomplete without the attention to detail that was put into those elements of the performance.
If you're looking for a fun evening of entertainment provided by a talented cast, The Fox on the Fairway is just the ticket. Visit www.oystermill.com today to see The Fox on the Fairway through June 16th!