Caught in the Net is the hilarious sequel to his hit Run for Your Wife both written by Ray Cooney. The British farce begins with bigamist taxi driver John Smith (the very funny Trip Lloyd) still keeping his two families a secret. His teenage children (one of each gender from each marriage) meet and chat online then agree to meet in person. Now begins John’s attempts at keeping his children apart. He enlists his lodger and best friend Stanley (Paul Tamney) to help with the situation.
The effective set design by Gavin Tameris is a two-sided living room which flows naturally into each other. The audience quickly realizes that they are simultaneously watching two separate households. There are seven doors which open and close with expert timing and grace.
Director Mari Davis has an excellent cast who work so well together, and Davis does an exceptional job setting the fast pace and timing of the dialogue which overlap each other at the separate houses, as well as the exits and entrances through the various doors. It was helpful because I hadn’t seen Run for Your Wife – the prequel play and was not lost. The audience quickly caught on to the rhythm of the pace set by the confusion of the characters and began laughing at the absurdity. I especially admired Davis’ direction for the ending and beginning of Acts 1 and 2. Act 1 ends with the actors freezing in place as one of the characters enters the room to see what all the fuss is about. The lights go dark for intermission. Act 2 begins with the actors in exactly the same frozen positions and facial expressions. I’ve never seen a play go to and come back from intermission like that, and Davis’ direction and staging was brilliant.
Trip Lloyd is a hoot as John Smith – a nervous, stuttering man who rushes back and forth between the two households. Lloyd’s shaky hands and facial expressions emphasize the sympathy you feel for him -making this ‘cheater’ likable. I hoped the truth didn’t come out as I kept laughing at his predicament.
The Smith children – Gavin (Sam Cornbrooks) and Vicki (Lexi Rhem) are likeable as well. They’re portrayed as two average teens who don’t understand why their father is so upset about their meeting up. The actors do a good job of silently staying in character while bedlam ensues around them.
Barbara Smith (Tara Church) and Mary Smith (Anne Knight Lloyd – Trip Lloyd’s wife in real life) give fine performances as the confused wives. Mary’s day is especially hectic as most of the action takes place at her house. She starts off as a polite, quiet housewife who slowly becomes enraged after having been locked into various rooms and believing her lodger Stanley has become a pervert. Barbara is the more confident woman who seems to be oblivious to all the hijinks surrounding her. She is slightly exasperated after several attempts to reach people on the phone but still maintains her calm composure in the chaos. Two very convincing performances.
Stanley’s Dad (Don Wilson) is a nice addition to Act 2. Despite his British accent not matching those of his fellow cast members – his performance was hilarious – entering the rooms and zinging his many one-liners with ease. I really enjoyed his humorous exchange with Stanley:
The father looking at his son says, “Rover.”
Stanley replies, “No Dad. Stanley.”
Dad replies back, “That was your mother’s idea. I wanted a dog.” And then gracefully exits the stage.
Stanley Gardner (Paul Tamney), also played this part in last year’s production of The Little Theatre of Alexandria’s Caught in the Net, and again becomes the center of the play, devising new stories during John’s absences, while delivering a wonderful ‘believable’ and very expressive performance. Tamney zings his funny dialogue without using the physical humor that some of the other actors/characters use. He spins his web of lies one on top of each other without losing his dignity, and keeps the action going throughout as he becomes more adept at making up the stories about those around him. I really enjoyed when he tries to stop Gavin from seeing Vicki, when he tells the lad that she is blind and fell off her visually impaired special bicycle. As ridiculous as his lies are you believe him because of Tamney’s sincere delivery.
Caught in the Net is a silly and enjoyable time in the theatre. If you love British farce, this is the show for you.
Running Time: Two hours, with one 15-minute intermission.
Caught in the Net plays through February 2, 2014 at Castaways Repertory Theatre performing at the Dr. A.J. Ferlazzo Building – 15941 Donald Curtis Drive, in Woodbridge, VA. For tickets, purchase them at the door, by calling (703) 232-1710, or by reserving them online.