Review: RUN FOR YOUR WIFE at Oyster Mill Playhouse

Audiences can catch Run for Your Wife through November 19th.

By: Nov. 05, 2023
Review: RUN FOR YOUR WIFE at Oyster Mill Playhouse

The British farce Run for Your Wife by Ray Cooney, premiered in 1982 in Guilford, England. In 1989, Run for Your Wife took the stage at the Virginia Theatre in New York.

Set in London in the 1980s, this play tells the story of John Smith, an ordinary taxi driver who has an extraordinary secret—he has two wives, who, even though they live only five minutes away by taxi, are each unaware of the other’s existence. Smith’s secret begins to unravel following a head injury that throws off his carefully maintained schedule. As detectives from Wimbledon, where his wife Mary lives, and Streatham, where his wife Barbara lives, attempt to figure out what happened the night Smith sustained his injury, the lies begin to take on a life of their own, sucking everyone and everything into their vortex.

As in any good farce, Run for Your Wife is filled with puns, double entendre, mistaken identities, and multiple doors. The script itself is unfortunately plagued by outdated, offensive language and humor that can become tiresome for today’s audience. As the Director of Oyster Mill Playhouse’s production, Lois Heagy comments in her Director’s Message, “while some of the language, references, and situations in this show have become passé, and slightly disconcerting, the basic comedy remains.” In the hands of Heagy and her talented cast, the real comedy shines through. Audiences can catch Run for Your Wife through November 19th.

The set (designed by Lois Heagy and constructed by Joel Persing, David Maletz, Bill Frey, and Charles Seitz), with set dressing by Stephen Martin, is creatively designed to remind the audience that there are two different flats in London, while enabling the cast to use the entire stage no matter which flat is the setting for the scene. The props, set, music, and costumes work well together to firmly set the play in the 1980s.

The cast features Holly Landis/Chip Nelson (Newspaper Reporter), Mark L. Scott (Bobby Franklyn), Margaret Morris (Detective Sergeant Troughton), Murray J. Weed (Detective Sergeant Porterhouse), Curtis Nelson (Stanley Gardner), Samantha Klimas (Barbara Smith), Mia Christensen (Mary Smith), and Matt Thomsen (John Smith). The entire cast has wonderful comedic timing, which is so essential for a farce. They manage to stay in character and in the moment despite the audience’s raucous laughter. Weed and Morris are delightful as the Detectives. Weed’s facial expressions are priceless. Morris’s comedy chops and ability to interact so naturally with every other character bring fluidity and a sense of reality to her scenes.

Samantha Klimas and Mia Christensen portray John Smith’s wives Barbara and Mary. Their opening scene, which depicts the women calling the police to report John missing sets just the right tone for the start of the play. Klimas’s Barbara is sarcastic and practical, and the audience can sense her mounting frustration with her husband’s antics through her tone of voice and facial expressions. Christensen has wonderful chemistry with the other actors on stage, and her ability to deliver the fast-paced barbs in the dialogue is excellent. Her skill at physical comedy is also highlighted in the second act when Mary takes too many pills after having a fit of hysterics.

Matt Thomsen and Curtis Nelson really steal the spotlight in their roles as John Smith and Stanley Gardner, Smith’s upstairs neighbor who unwittingly gets tangled up in the web of deceit. Thomsen has great stage presence and uses changes in his voice, movements, and expressions to show the audience the way in which John Smith feels more and more frantic as his lies come crashing in on him. Nelson’s performance is pure comedy gold. Every aspect of his character is expertly crafted from his facial expressions to his vocal inflections. The audience cannot help but love Stanley Gardner for his loyalty to Mary and his attempts to help his friends, and the audience cannot help but feel sorry for Stanley as he gets pulled into the drama of John Smith’s duplicity. This reviewer cannot wait to see Nelson in future shows.

Even though some of the language and jokes in the script are definitely cringe-worthy today, the performance of Run for Your Wife at Oyster Mill Playhouse is genuinely funny, and audiences that enjoy a fast-paced, well-acted farce will have an enjoyable evening. Several performances have already sold out, so get your tickets before it’s too late. For more information, visit oystermillplayhouse.com.

Photo: Nicole Dube @shesophoto

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