BY LANA MICHELIN
Central Alberta Theatre easily hits a hole-in-one with its season-launching farce, Fox on the Fairway.
From its opening quote — “Golf is nothing but a good walk, spoiled,” by Mark Twain — to quirky characters portrayed with great comic timing by a stand-out cast, this is a winning production.
It undoubtedly helps that CAT is back doing dinner theatres at the Black Knight Inn, where the play opened Friday night with good sight lines to the stage in the newly renovated dinner theatre space.
Also, it sure doesn’t hurt that the Ken Ludwig script hangs on a hilariously breezy, sometimes cheesy, Three’s Company-style plot line.
You have your hand-wringing worrier, only instead of Three’s Company’s Mr. Farley, it’s Quail Valley Golf and Country Club president Henry Bingham (played as an endearing curmudgeon by Craig Scott).
Bingham’s so eager to break his club’s losing streak that he makes a ridiculously big bet on the outcome of an inter-club golf tournament with his braggart nemesis, Dickie Bell. Slickly played by Jason Lee (think: Jack Tripper’s swinging singles friend Larry), Dickie is the president of the Crouching Squirrel Golf and Racquetball Club — and a sleaze, who hires away Bingham’s ace golfer.
Add to this dysfunctional duo a ditsy Quail Valley waitress named Louise (Sarah Spicer); a pratfalling man-child new hire, Justin Hicks (Connor Lee); and a sexy voice-of-reason, the club’s vice-president, Pamela Peabody (Tara Rorke); and you get nearly the whole comic picture.
But Fox on the Fairway wouldn’t be complete without Rina Pelletier’s formidable performance as Henry’s larger-than-life wife, Muriel Bingham. The battle-axe antique shop owner generates a ton of laughs, even when she’s not on stage — whether through Henry’s wry musings about his ball-buster spouse, or during phone calls in which Muriel’s disembodied voice sounds suspiciously similar to the fog-horn teacher from the Peanuts specials.
Of course, Muriel’s Three’s Company alter-ego is Mrs. Roper.
All of the cast members under the confident leadership of director Alexandra Taylor, are terrific. They understand how to handle the physical comedy and wring laughs out of even the more hackneyed jokes.
The most hilarious scene is towards the end of the first act when Louise and her fiance, Justin, are both crying — make that capital-B-bawling — over a lost engagement ring, while an agape Pamela looks on in stunned disbelief at these two plus-sized toddlers.
Fox on the Fairway has what every farce needs — over-the-top performances, crazy coincidences, and most of all, a cast that knows how to deliver a punch line. Anyone who could use some silly yuks should see it.
The show runs to Nov. 12.