“Golf is not a game, but a way of life. A religion, if you will,” intones Henry Bingham, president of the Quail Valley Country Club, in Ken Ludwig’s The Fox on the Fairway, playing now at Reston’ Community Players at CenterStage, and directed lovingly by Adam Konowe.
The production by the Reston Community Players faithfully reflects this philosophy. Maggie Modig’s set for the club’s taproom—which drew a short burst of applause before the play even began—is lavishly decked out with golf-themed details, from “Golf Is Life” signs on the wall to a framed photo of Tiger Woods to a golf-ball-filled lamp by the sofa. This was after theatergoers had walked past display boards in the lobby covered with golf jokes and cartoons. And costume designer Judy Whelihan has gone all out in finding the tackiest, loudest, ugliest possible golf-themed sweaters for Dickie Bell, president of a rival club, which serve as both a running gag and a crucial part of the plot.
But though it helps a bit to know at least the basics of the game, you don’t have to be a golf nut to have a good time at this show, which revolves around Bingham’s (Zell Murphy) and Bell’s (David Segal) increasingly desperate attempts to win the $200,000 bet they’ve made on a golf tournament between their clubs. Typically for one of Ludwig’s joyously old-fashioned farces, the show is full of crazy coincidences, misunderstandings, brawls, secret identities, and high-speed chases in high heels, with scene after scene building to a frenzied free-for-all.
As a Ken Ludwig devotee from way back, I generally like to see the proceedings conducted at a slightly more frenetic pace then they were here. But with the highly physical comedy and split-second timing that his plays require, that’s asking a lot of any cast. And overall, this one handled the material quite competently. Standouts included Segal, who portrayed a Southern-accented Snidely Whiplash with aplomb, and Stephanie Walsh, who played club waitress Louise Heindbedder with the boundless exuberance and squeaky voice of a Kristin Chenoweth, and had terrific chemistry with her love interest. Brad Dressler was hilarious as goofy and gangly young golfer Justin Hicks. Dina Soltan, as Quail Valley vice president and resident maneater Pamela Peabody, brought both sultriness and wit to the role, especially in a hilarious drunk scene with Murphy’s affable but harried Bingham.
There were moments, particularly when the action pulled them upstage, when the cast was a little hard to hear (with the exception of Soltan, who projected well, and Kelly Thompson as the foghorn-voiced Muriel Bingham), which meant that some of the jokes got lost, particularly in the second act. I am confident that this will be rectified before tonight’s performance.
The Fox on the Fairway is a loving tribute not only to golf and its enthusiasts, but also to classic slapstick comedy, and lovers of that art form are sure to enjoy Reston Community Players’ uproarious production.
Running Time: Approximately 2 hours, with one intermission.
The Fox on the Fairway plays through May 9, 2015 at Reston Community Players performing at CenterStage at the Reston Community Center in the Lake Anne Village Center – 1609 Washington Plaza North, in Reston, VA.. For tickets, call the box office at (703) 476-4500 ext. 3, or purchase them online.
Meet the Cast of Reston Community Players’ ‘The Fox on the Fairway’: Part 1: Stephanie Walsh, Kelly Thompson, & Bradley Dresser.
Meet the Cast of Reston Community Players’ ‘The Fox on the Fairway’: Part 2: Dina Soltan, David Segal, and Zell Murphy.
Meet the Producers and Director of RCP’s ‘The Fox on the Fairway’: Bea and Jerry Morse and Adam Konowe.