Most Americans know Wimbledon as the site of that famous tennis tournament. One of John Smith’s (not the Pocahontas one) addresses is Wimbledon and he may as well be in a tennis match, running back and forth between his two homes and two wives in the Windsor Jesters production of Run for Your Wife.
John Smith, a taxi driver, has had his schedule (that’s shed-ule in British) perfectly planned to split time between his wives without either of them suspecting anything until he gets into a car crash and that could expose his double identity when police investigate. I initially though the play was called Run for Your Wives and it may as well be called that with all the duplicity in the show.
The opening scene, with “Love and Marriage” by Frank Sinatra playing in the background, sets the tone for the whole play. At first it appears like we’re looking at one large room with two women inside. But the symmetry of Barbara Smith (Tracy Weed) and Mary Smith (Helen Malinka) doing the exact same actions on opposite sides of the rooms and the color split on the walls soon clue you into the fact that the set is meant to be two homes.
When you hear both of them calling the police to find their husband John Smith, you start to realize the secret of the play and just how much the lives of the two women are intertwined. They share a husband, so why not appear to be sharing a house? The set design was written into the script, according to Director Rosemary Beskind, so it is intended to be one big room with overlapping blocking as opposed to two rooms side by side with a divider. The exits and entrances through the doors are so timely and drive the direness of the situation John Smith has gotten himself into as police investigate why a hero who crashed while trying to save two women from being mugged has two addresses.
Chris Bushey had a Jon Lovitz air about him with his dry comedic humor as the average man who has dug himself too deep with an affair turned marriage and elaborate lies. His one syllable answers as he begins to cover his secret say so much.
Steve O’Brien reprised a type of character he played before in Curtains in my first Theatre Guild of Simsbury show, a cop. His Det. Sgt. Porterhouse has innocence and poise that contrast the humorously witty double entendre of a good portion of the script. Det. Sgt Troughton Mark O’Donnell plays the straight man in comedy well as the tough investigative Troughton.
Tracy Weed took on a role that was out of her comfort zone and it didn’t show because you could tell she was having so much fun as Barbara, the sexier of John Smith’s two wives. The physicality of bashing through a door with her suitcase and diving showed that Weed is even able to do her own stunts. Her expressions are priceless.
Malinka’s hysterics as Mary Smith strengthened the impact of her character, particularly when she is a “nun.”
Bruce Larsen plays the snoopy upstairs neighbor who says what he needs to say with good use of body language.
I loved Jeffrey Weber, new to the Connecticut theater scene, as Bobby Franklin, Barbara’s sparkly, fashionable upstairs neighbor who is a flamboyant mirror to Stanley in Mary’s building.
I could not stop laughing during most of the show. My only critique was that the actors weren’t wearing microphones and you couldn’t always hear them , so lines were occasionally muddled in the British accents.
But Ray Cooney’s script for the show is spot on in capturing typical British humor and witty wordplays that make a lot of use of dramatic irony. The audience is in on the joke just like we are in on John Smith’s secret.
The last show is at L. P. Wilson Community Center in Windsor on Saturday, May 24 at 8 p.m. This is a must see.
Editor’s Note: Rosemary Beskind, Steve O’Brien and Tracy Weed are members of the Theatre Guild of Simsbury, where this writer has acted and served on the board.