‘Whose Wives Are They Anyway’ at Bowie Community Theatre

Need a major pick-me-up after a week locked up with a dictatorial boss and coasting co-workers?

An evening at the Bowie Community Theatre, tucked into the woodlands of White Marsh Park in Bowie, should be the perfect antidote.

In a business action that is increasingly common, the Ashley Maureen Cosmetic Company has been acquired by another corporation, and the new company head, the overbearing, dogmatic, fire-breathing  D.L. Hutchison (Rikki Howie Lacewell) has been installed.

Cue fear and anxiety.

Before the new CEO’s arrival, two of the cosmetic company’s vice presidents decide to have one last good weekend before the new regime gets underway. And, the inevitable layoffs or demotions begin.

David McGachen (Aref Dajani) and John Baker (R. Bret Rohrer) send their wives, Karly McGachen (Jennifer L. Harvey-Franklin) and Laura Baker (Temple Fortson) off on a shopping spree in New York City, while they check into the Oakfield Golf and Country Club for a weekend of uninterrupted golf, relaxing, and bro-manship.

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It’s not to be.

D.L. Hutchison has checked into the club, too.

D.L. turns out to be a no-nonsense woman with clear ideas of how her employees should conduct their personal, off-hours lives.

The club staff includes Wilson (Tillman Figgs), a handyman and porter who is handiest with excuses why his La-Z-Susan assortment of physical conditions prevents him from carrying a guest’s suitcase or golf bag; sexy club receptionist Tina (Terra Elaine Vigil-Wynn); and the strident, Puritanical club manager Mrs. Carlson (Pamela Northrup).

Minutes into a weekend where the guys hoped to “golf their brains out,” they meet the new boss, who tells them she expects to meet their wives that evening because “no one who went golfing for a weekend without his wife would ever work for me!”

Fearing for their jobs, and with their wives hours away, the men hastily come up with Plan B.

Tina, promised enough Ashley Maureen cosmetics to last a lifetime, is reluctantly persuaded to pretend to be John Baker’s newlywed wife.

The only one who can flounce around as David’s wife is – what? – John. Sure, purchase a wig in the club’s beauty salon, a dress in the boutique, add some Ashley Maureen magic and, Voila! you have a madcap comedy of mistaken identities, well-timed physical action and a lot of double and triple entrendres.

And, that’s before David and John’s real wives show up and further muddy the manic waters.

The plot, set in the 1990s, is devoid of computers, wide screens or iPhones. The technology it does have, five rotary telephones, does not work well, further deepening the mayhem.

Director Jeffrey Lesniak deftly directs the quickly moving, hysterical plot in which none of the characters gets a chance to take a deep breath or think beyond the next howling tall tale.

The set, at first glance, looks a bit like an M.C. Escher sketch: a warren of puzzle pieces that fit perfectly together. On one stage, the audience can view the malfunctioning check-in desk, the lobby, the two men’s separate hotel rooms and the entry to the boss’ room.

This warren of rooms designed by Roger Paradis, with, count ‘em, seven doorways, guarantees characters will be popping in and out like giant whack-a-mole characters.

Without giving away much more of the insanity, the actors plow enthusiastically into Michael Parker’s script, yet manage to avoid serious injury with the very physical plot by the final curtain.

Dave and John, the schemers at the center of the madness, keep the story rolling along by digging themselves deeper into their deception. All the characters find themselves in unexpected – and often compromising – positions.

Much to the audience’s delight.

If only the real corporate world could be so funny.

Scene Stealer: It’s a toss-up between Wilson, portrayed by Tillmon Figgs, who has a new ailment each time he’s asked to perform a physical task; or the pyrotechnics of R. Brett Rohrer as John Baker whose role requires the speed of a Division I sprinter, the agility and skill of an Olympic gymnast, and the personality of a perpetual Miss Congeniality.

Run Time: 2 hours. including a 15-minute intermission.

Whose Wives are They Anyway? is playing now through August 2, 2015 at Bowie Community Theatre performing at Bowie Playhouse -16500 White Marsh Park Drive, in Bowie, MD. For tickets, call (301) 805-0219, or purchase them online.

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‘Whose Wives are They Anyway?’ Coming to Bowie Community Theatre July 17-August 2, 2015.

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