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Comedy, chaos in Weathervane show

5/10/2012 - West Side Leader
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By David Ritchey

‘See How They Run’ features strong direction, acting

Jennifer Hayek (Penelope) and Beau Reinker (Clive) share a scene in Weathervane Playhouse’s production of “See How They Run.”
Photo courtesy of Weathervane Playhouse
MERRIMAN VALLEY — The children’s poem “Three Blind Mice” is the source of the title “See How They Run,” which is on stage at Weathervane Playhouse through May 20.

The farce, written by Philip King (1904-79), has a plot that defies description. The story takes place in the vicarage in Merton-cum-Middlewick, a small village in rural 1940s England.

The Rev. Lionel Toop (Scott Davis) has recently married Penelope (Jennifer Hayek). One of the ladies of the church, Miss Skillon (Harriet DeVeto), is upset because Penelope has decorated the pulpit at the church (a job usually reserved for Miss Skillon) and the fact that Penelope was an actress (GASP!).

On May 4, when I saw the production, director Eileen Moushey substituted as Miss Skillon.

Cpl. Clive Winton (Beau Reinker), who is stationed at a military base near the vicarage, stops by to visit with Penelope, with whom he performed in “Private Lives.” As Clive and Penelope attempt to recreate a scene from the play, Miss Skillon observes them through the glass door and thinks Lionel and Penelope are having a fight. This discovery sends Miss Skillon to the cooking sherry, and she doesn’t recover until the curtain call.

The story has two other subplots. A Communist Russian (Ian Haberman) has escaped from a POW camp and makes his way to the vicarage. Second, Penelope’s uncle, The Bishop of Lax (Tom Stephan) arrives for a visit with his niece. His visit is complicated by the entrance of The Rev. Arthur Humphrey (Jeff Bixby), who is scheduled to lead the worship service tomorrow (Sunday) morning.

Fortunately for everyone associated with the vicarage, the Toops have hired the world’s best daffy maid, Ida (Jo McGarvey).

Moushey did excellent work as the director. The characters are well-delineated, the timing of the show keeps the action moving at a fast pace, and the production has a professional quality that is often lacking in community theaters.

McGarvey knows how to play physical comedy and how to get laughs. She is superb as the confusion-generating maid.

Hayek plays comedy with style and charm. Hayek works in the style of Debra Messing and plays for the laughs while moving the plot forward.

Bixby creates a laugh-a-minute visiting minister. He leaps over the sofa, does wonderful falls and keeps the audience with him at every wild moment.

The other members of the cast play in key. Every performer works in the same style of nonsense. This is a cast-solid production.

Jasen J. Smith (costume designer) deserves recognition for Miss Skillon’s hat and costume. The hat deserves to be worn to a royal wedding. He also at one time has four men on the stage dressed as vicars.

“See How They Run” is a strong production. Moushey’s attention to detail makes this one of the most satisfying shows Weathervane has offered. For ticket information, call 330-836-2626.

David Ritchey has a Ph.D. in communications and is a professor of communications at The University of Akron. He is a member of the American Theatre Critics Association.

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