The Fox On The Fairway
By Ken Ludwig. Directed by Liz Bradley. Canberra Repertory Society.
Theatre 3. Preview Nov 21 at 8pm then Nov 22 to Dec 7.
Tickets $40, concessions $35, preview $30.
Bookings: canberrarep.org.au or 62571950
To end 2013 on a light note, Canberra Repertory Society is presenting its third Ken Ludwig farce. Lend Me A Tenor was set in the world of opera, Moon Over Buffalo in repertory theatre and this play, The Fox on the Fairway, is set in the world of golf.
Director Liz Bradley says, ''It's an interesting premise for a farce.''
The folly of competition, winning and obsession with sport all come into play in this story of two rival golf clubs who are about to play their annual tournament. The president of the Quail Valley Golf and Country Club, Henry Bingham (played by Jim Adamik) believes he has an advantage over his counterpart at Crouching Squirrel Golf and Racket Club, Dickie Bell (Andrew Price).
''Bingham thinks he's secured a fellow called Tramplemain as his ace in the hole,'' Bradley says.
Bingham and Bell make a very big wager - and not just for a large chunk of cash.
''Dickie prods him to bet his wife's antique shop.''
But Bingham's confidence turns out to be misplaced when his star player defects to the other side on the eve of the competition. Fortunately, he discovers his new assistant, Justin Hicks (Martin Hoggart) is a natural - if highly strung - golfer and it looks like Quail Valley is back in the competition.
But when Justin's fiancee Louise (Natalie Waldron) loses his grandmother's engagement ring, he freaks out and once again Bingham's money - and his wife's shop - look to be under serious threat.
And there are a lot more complications - overheard utterances, secrets revealed, histories unveiled - that audiences can discover for themselves.
''It's an absolute farce - there's no character development, nothing deep and meaningful, just people that are already there,'' Bradley says.
Ludwig, an American, wrote The Fox on the Fairway as a tribute to the classic British farces of the late 19th and early 20th centuries such as Brandon Thomas's Charley's Aunt.
Bradley says he saw in them a sense of innocence and breezy exuberance that he wanted to capture.
''I think it's a comedy of errors, to steal a phrase. It's like a sitcom. It's entertainment pure and simple: it doesn't want you to think … it doesn't want to teach you anything.''
That's not to say it's not a challenge for those putting on the production.
The actors have to be well rehearsed and there are 98 sound cues in the show.
''It's an exercise in timing. You don't work on deepening character or internal journeys but you work on timing - fitting in all the follies along the way. It's work.''
This is the fourth play Bradley has directed for Rep - the previous three were also comedies - but the 67-year-old has directed and acted in a wide variety of works in her 40 years in Canberra.
In casting the show, Bradley says she could easily have cast Rep regulars, but she wanted to bring in different people - some, like Adamik, mostly work with other companies. Others, like Hoggart, are young and relatively new to the stage (he played Jem Finch in Free-Rain's To Kill A Mockingbird).
''I chose to try to bring different talent in - I don't like it when theatre companies become closed and you see the same actors all the time. I prefer the theatre community to be spreading its talents around more.''