April 25, 2015
The second offering of Repertory Philippines this year is an all-out farce. This was written by Ray Cooney and first staged back in 1983. However, despite the obvious detail that they do not yet have the technical advances of our current time in this, the play did not feel dated at all. As brought to life by the ever-reliable actors of Repertory Philippines, this absurd British tale of bigamy was one hilarious riot!
John Smith is a taxi driver. He lives with his prim and conservative wife Mary in their flat in Wimbledon. However, John is not as ordinary as he would seem. It turns out he was keeping a second wife in Streatham district, the younger and sexier Barbara. However, one night when John was injured in a mugging incident, his neat little wife-juggling schedule was totally messed up. From there, a most complicated comedy of errors ensues that threatens to blow John's little secret wide open.
Jaime Wilson is very charming and so deadpan funny as the caddish cab driver John. This versatile actor is really perfect for the madcap comedies I have seen him in before. It was so good to finally see him as the lead star in one of his very own. His big expressive eyes convey so much of the panic his character was boiling in as he tries to weasel himself out of his sticky predicament by fabricating lie upon lie. His best scene was that one right before the intermission break where he was desperately trying to prevent people from seeing his picture in the newspaper.
I have never seen Goldie Soon in a play before. She was pretty much the straight woman in the first act, but she really hit her stride in the second act as her dear little uptight Mary Smith goes wild. I had seen Mikkie Bradshaw before in the titular role as telepathic teenager Carrie, and I know she can deliver the goods. However, at first, she struck me as miscast as the libidinous Barbara. As the play went on though, she eventually eased into her role.
The ever-dapper actor Jeremy Domingo was totally deglamorized as John and Mary’s bum of an upstairs neighbor, Stanley Gardner. He was almost unrecognizable with his disheveled upswept hairstyle, his disgusting stained undershirt and bulging beer belly. Domingo gave an outstanding, positively shameless supporting performance that kept the audience in stitches as his character got more and more enmeshed in John's web of lies.
Contributing major laughs in the mix are the two policemen from the two districts where John lived. They are the suspicious Detective Sergeant Troughton (played by James Stacey) and the fatherly Detective Sergeant Porterhouse (played by Paul Holme). Stacey is the straight man in the whole farce and it was so funny how he was so enraged about the whole maddening situation. Seeing the venerable Mr. Holme in that frilly apron is already worth the price of admission.
Completing the cast is Steven Conde as the John and Barbara's gay upstairs neighbor Bobby Franklin. He could be a little too loud and too flamboyant for comfort.
Repertory Philippines loves this smartly-written play so much, this is already the third time they are staging it. Director Miguel Faustmann in fact had played John Smith in the previous two incarnations in 1986 and 2001. The stage direction is really ingenious as there was only one set to represent the two houses with the characters just using specific doors and props on either side. The couch in the middle is shared by both "addresses". It was so enjoyable to see that merry mix-up unfolding in front of us in very unexpected ways. The way the witty British humor was delivered by all the actors was so on point and perfectly timed.
Although the story of two wives has been on tv soap operas ad nauseam lately, the topic of this play is still considered for mature audiences only. But it shows us this double set-up in a most ridiculous light. The audience at the matinee this afternoon were all really engaged in the silly story and were laughing out loud. I noted the center orchestra section was filled mostly with senior citizens and they were not shy in their guffaws. I swear the elderly couple beside me was snickering non-stop at the naughty, irreverent, politically incorrect humor as I was. A good laugh is guaranteed!
This was such a fun show to watch despite all the sensitive, potentially offensive buttons it pushed in such a light-hearted delightful way. There was a dry British film version of this play released in 2012, but don't bother with that at all. This live version is SO MUCH better!
"Run For Your Wife" only runs for one more weekend next week up to May 3, 2015 at the Onstage Theater in Greenbelt 1. Ticket prices are very reasonable, ranging only from P400 to P600. For more details regarding RUN FOR YOUR WIFE, call Repertory Philippines at 843-3570. You can also book tickets through TicketWorld at 891-9999 or visit their website at www.ticketworld.com.ph.