Insight’s “The Fox On The Fairway” Proves It’s All In The…Uh, Timing

Julia Crump, Ed Reggi, Michael Amoroso and Jenni Ryan bring some frenzy to “The Fox On The Fairway” at Insight Theatre Company’s production.

Playwright and author Ken Ludwig has brought us more than a few laughs- most notably with the farce, “Lend Me A Tenor.” His latest attempt, “The Fox On The Fairway,” is a farce that doesn’t quite get that frenetic treatment at Insight Theatre Company. Despite some excellent work from a delightful cast, the pace is more like a drawing room comedy and therefore misfires on the essence of his intent.

Director Tlaloc Rivas tries to squeeze the comic nature out of the play, but both dialogue and movement needs to be more fast-paced than it is. Although I have seen bad productions of the aforementioned “Lend Me A Tenor,” the secret to that show is  slamming doors, near-miss communication and crisp but intelligible dialogue. The same is true with “The Fox On The Fairway” but these elements are, for the most part, missing and, while the production is a funny one, it isn’t the hilarious farce it’s supposed to be. As I said in my header, it’s all in the timing.

Ed Reggi, as the general manager of an exclusive country club, and Jenni Ryan as his assistant and long time “secret” love, come closest to providing the proper spirit in a few of their scenes that ebb and flow with the needed chemistry to make this play work. They are truly a great pair who make the dialogue crackle and burn. Michael Amoroso and Julia Crump as the young lovers who turn out to be quite a match on the golf course as well, don’t quite pull off the frenetic pace as their dialogue is more melodramatic than frenetic and the one scene where they get to bring in the “slamming doors” comedy is hampered by a swinging door rather than one that “slams.”

Jenni Ryan and Susie Wall try to keep their cool during their confrontation in Insight Theatre’s “The Fox On The Fairway.”

Veteran Susie Wall single-handedly saves the end of the first act with a dramatic entrance and ensuing confrontation with her philandering hubby. She literally lights the much-needed spark that gives us hope for a wild and wooly second act. Rounding out the cast is Bob Harvey as the manager of the rival country club who is trying to extend the match play streak that they’ve held for the past five years. Despite the proper air of superiority and smug satisfaction, his delivery also fails to give us that much needed desperation that a farce should engender.

The great set design by William Schmiel could only be improved by more of the “slamming” doors I’ve mentioned while Sean Savoie’s lights and the costumes of Laura Hanson both add nice touches to the production.

Another “hazard” of doing a show about golf is that you can’t really show the action that is taking place. So actors are forced to stand and stare into the audience as if they’re following a drive or a putt which tends to slow down a show that depends on non-stop action. So, despite making a couple of faux pas about golf in general, the suspension of disbelief is acceptable but bringing non-action to the action of a game just doesn’t work.

So “The Fox On The Fairway” is a reasonable and enjoyable comedy but it falls short in the real intent of Ken Ludwig’s script- a frenetic farce that should have us laughing out loud instead of the occasional chuckle. See it at Insight Theatre through July 15th.

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