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Coach House scores hole in one with ‘Fox on the Fairway’

5/16/2013 - West Side Leader
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By David Ritchey

Henry Bishop and Karen Wood star in Coach House Theatre’s “The Fox on the Fairway.”
Photo: Scott Custer
WEST AKRON — You don’t need to understand or play golf to enjoy Coach House Theatre’s production of “The Fox on the Fairway,” which is on stage through June 2.

You merely need to remember that golf isn’t a game but a way of life. Or, as one character in this outrageous farce said, “Golf and sex are the only two things you can enjoy without being good at.”

On opening night the theater was almost sold out to capacity. So, my advice is call now to get a seat in the observer’s gallery.

“The Fox on the Fairway” is a new play by Ken Ludwig. The plot is simple — the Crouching Squirrel Club is having a friendly competition with the Quail Valley Club. Friendship goes out the window when the bets on the tournament reach $200,000.

Those who have followed theater in the Akron area have seen other plays by Ludwig, such as “Leading Ladies,” “Lend Me a Tenor,” “Moon Over Buffalo,” “Postmortem,” “Shakespeare in Hollywood” and “The Game’s Afoot.”

Bingham (Terry Burgler) manages the Quail Valley Club. This club has lost to the Crouching Squirrel golfers for the past four years. If the Quails don’t win this tournament, Bingham will lose his job.

Dickie (Henry Bishop) manages the Crouching Squirrel Club. Bishop should receive a special award for loudest, most brazen costumes worn in any theater in the world. His costumes deserve their own curtain call. Dickie is the ex-husband of Pamela (Dede Klein), a member of the Crouching Squirrel Club. When Dickie shows up at the Quail Valley Clubhouse to goad Bingham, Pamela is there and returns the barbs.

Justin (Kevin Glass) has recently been hired by Bingham and is a superior golfer. As the first act progresses, he becomes engaged to Louise (Holly Humes), an assistant to Bingham. However, this sub-plot doesn’t go well for the lovers. Louise is an emotional, daffy bride-to-be. Justin can’t play golf well when his life isn’t in perfect order. And, Bingham is desperate for the Quail golfers to win. How can a man think about marriage when he and his boss may lose their jobs if he doesn’t continue playing under par?

Into this tense situation arrives Muriel (Karen Wood), the wife of Bingham. Muriel carries a rolled up newspaper for hitting people — her husband, other women and occasionally the furniture. Wood usually plays nice, sweet characters. It’s a pleasure to see her play a character who strikes fear in everyone on the stage and, perhaps, a few in the audience.

Burgler, as the director, keeps the action moving at a quick pace and makes every action seem important and plausible. Burgler has a superior cast for this farce.

Klein is beautiful and naughty in a role that should have been written for her.

Wood proves that blondes do have more fun, even if they seek revenge on an ex-boyfriend and a difficult husband.

Glass displays an ease with his neurotic character’s physical humor.

Humes is appropriately dazed by a combination of love and golf.

Bishop delightfully underplays his character and tosses off Ludwig’s words as if the playwright has another set of laugh lines waiting for him in the locker room. 

Burgler designed the set, which in true Ludwig style has plenty of doors for chases and surprise entrances and exits.

Nancy Cates (costume design) once again costumed her characters in perfect clothing. 

In addition to Dickie’s golf togs, which I mentioned earlier, be sure to notice (you can’t help it) the gowns worn by Klein and Humes. Remember this is an over-the-top farce, and the costumes complement the script.

This is a wonderful production — the performance is appropriate for the script and the Ludwig style.

For ticket information, call 330-434-7741.


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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