Review: ‘A Fox on the Fairway’ by The Little Theatre of Alexandria

The Quail Valley Country Club is the setting for Ken Ludwig’s A Fox on the Fairway, and the annual golf tournament against their rivals, Crouching Squirrel Country Club, is at hand. Quail Valley’s manager, Henry Bingham (Ken Kemp) is determined to win this year, but the side bet he makes with his counterpart, Crouching Squirrel’s Director Dickie Bell (Brendan Chaney), is destined to lead to drama.

Patricia Nicklin as Pamela Peabody, Ken Kemp as Henry Bingham and Cameron McBride as Justin Hicks in 'A Fox on the Fairway' at Little Theatre of Alexandria. Photo by Matt Liptak.
Patricia Nicklin as Pamela Peabody, Ken Kemp as Henry Bingham and Cameron McBride as Justin Hicks in ‘A Fox on the Fairway’ at The Little Theatre of Alexandria. Photo by Matt Liptak.

The physicality of the farcical comedy provides my favorite moments from A Fox on the Fairway. There are the standard gags of characters who are searching for, but just missing each other, as they enter or exit through multiple doors. Quail Valley’s newest employee and potential savior, Justin Hicks (Cameron McBride) has a delightful moment upending on a couch while struggling through an emotional meltdown. Some of the best lines in the play are ridiculously goofy, such as Dickie’s malaprops and fractured proverbs, spoken sincerely by Chaney. Pamela Peabody (Patricia Nicklin) has some wonderfully snarky lines to Dickie, her ex-husband, such as, “Oh please, if I ever sent you a package wrapped in brown paper, it would be ticking.” Henry’s wife, Muriel Bingham (Lorraine Bouchard) appears later in the show, but fights to keep what is important to her.

Ken Ludwig writes very funny moments in A Fox on the Fairway, but some of the humor in the production at LTA gets driven into the play’s sandtraps. There are awkwardly presented aspects of the script; characters speak directly to the audience at the top of each act, and the ingenue, Louise (Raeanna Nicole Larson) often steps into a spotlight downstage center to deliver a classical Greek-style oration reflecting on the issues in the play. Although this is in the script, the style used didn’t match well with the farce of the rest of the play. I wanted more clarity from Director Scott J. Strasbaugh to indicate how these moments fit within the narrative of the story.

Louise and Justin are both sympathetic characters, and as played by McBride and Larson, gain the support of the audience for the couple’s romance. Interestingly, I found myself more invested in the potential romance between Bingham and Pamela. When a drunken revelation of love is mistakenly shared over the PA system, chaos ensues. The romantic entanglements soon include every character, and relationships are questioned and revealed with comedic surprises.

Set Design by Marian Holmes represents the country club’s taproom, relying on realism until we get to the climactic final putt of the tournament, when the setting seemed to be in multiple places at once. Lighting design by Jeffrey Auerbach and Kimberly Crago softens the green walls of the club and helps draw focus when needed. Sound design by Alan Wray and Krista White included strong, clear choices such as an erratic PA system and golf balls being hit and sinking in the cup, as well as nature sounds suggesting the country setting.

A Fox on the Fairway plays through June 29, 2019, at The Little Theatre of Alexandria, 600 Wolfe Street, Alexandria, VA. For tickets, call the LTA Box Office at 703-683-0496 or go online.