Review Roundup: RUN FOR YOUR WIFE By Repertory Philippines

By: Apr. 23, 2015

Manila, Philippines--Repertory Philippines (Rep) and the City of Makati present Ray Cooney's 1983 farce RUN FOR YOUR WIFE at OnStage (Greenbelt 1, Makati City) now through Sunday, May 3. It's Rep's third time (the first one was in 1986; the second, 2001) to stage the show, directed by Miguel Faustmann.

Considered the mother of all British farces, RUN FOR YOUR WIFE, which premiered in London's West End in 1983, officially opened on Broadway in 1989.

It tells the story of an extraordinarily ordinary taxi driver John Smith (Jamie Wilson) and his sexy secret: he has a loving wife, Mary (Goldie Soon), who lives in a flat in Wimbledon, and another loving wife, Barbara (Mikkie Bradshaw), who lives in a different flat only four minutes away. A heroic impulse thrusts John into the spotlight and under the scrutiny of detectives. John must rush back and forth between his two wives, trying to preserve the marital balance he has so cleverly constructed--prompting, in the words of the New York Post, "virtually continuous laughter."

Let's hear what the local critics had to say then:

John Paul Cana, When a play bills itself as a comedy, expectations are high that it can at least elicit a chuckle or three. "Run For Your Wife" is, undoubtedly, rip-roaringly funny, the kind of humor that works for a Filipino audience. "Do you know what an accessory is?" one of the cops asks, subtly hinting at the consequences of aiding someone with a criminal act. Gardner innocently replies, "A handbag?"

The characters, especially Smith, move and run around a lot, so it is to director Miguel Faustmann's credit that it never gets too confusing or overwhelming. At times, though, the action onstage reminded me of those old-school sitcoms on primetime TV. (Think "Palibhasa Lalake" or "Ober Da Bakod"). This shouldn't be construed as a criticism of the acting. On the contrary, this batch of mostly theater veterans act up a storm, complete with what to me sounded like passable British accents. It was a true ensemble where each actor was only as good as the colleague he or she was doing a scene with; and in that case, everyone lifted everybody else up.

Vladimir Bunoan, Faustmann is a perfect choice to direct this play. He has, after all, directed many of Rep's recent comedies, including the well-reviewed "Boeing Boeing," which also deals with infidelity. But more importantly, Faustmann knows Cooney's work well, having starred in the two previous stagings in the lead role of cab driver John Smith, now played by a charming Jamie Wilson...

Faustmann successfully orchestrates the onstage action and the actors never miss a beat. Here, the exaggerated acting, the slapstick elements and the implausible plot work perfectly together to deliver an old-fashioned madcap comedy that is guaranteed to entertain.

Rep has assembled a cast that performs like clockwork, led by Wilson, who despite his character's two-timing nature, manages to make the audience root for him.

Jasmine Agnes T. Cruz, BusinessWorld: Many moments are a mix of laughter and suspense. The secrets are always at the brink of discovery and yet creative cover ups, fake identities, and ass-saving misunderstandings continue to keep things hushed up. The thrilling anxiety leads to either tearful laughter or giggly fright.

The play benefits from an effective staging. The stage is divided into two areas: Mary's and Babara's halves. As the play progresses, the two separate areas become connected by telephone calls until the individuals from one house are lured into the other house. One such scene has the detective who met John previously at Barbara's house paying a visit to Mary's house, and the only one who can save the situation is Stanley [Jeremy Domingo] -- who pretends to be John without Mary finding out he has assumed her husband's identity while fooling the policeman thoroughly. Nobody understands each other, leaving the audience roaring with laughter.

For more information, visit Philippines Show Listings.