The cast of “Run For Your Wife,” playing through April 20 at Ed Fletcher’s Early Bird Dinner Theatre.
CLEARWATER - Ray Cooney’s “Run For Your Wife” is playing through April 20 at Ed Fletcher’s Early Bird Dinner Theatre, 200 S. McMullen Booth Road, Clearwater.
Seating for performances on Thursday through Sunday is 4 p.m. Seating for matinees on Thursday and Saturday is 11 a.m.
The classic farce is based on improbable situations, and taxi driver John Smith (played by Early Bird regular Toby Manion) finds himself in the middle of one of the most far-fetched, implausible predicaments ever conceived ... and what’s worse is that he is a victim of his own duplicity. Smith, it seems, has been living a double life, complete with two flats and two wives. When he receives a bump to the noggin, his difficult-to-manage subterfuge becomes increasingly uncontrollable and unwieldy.
The stage is split in two by an invisible partition so that it represents both of Smith’s residences. The play opens with both of his wives sharing the stage, though in reality miles separates the two. The ensuing lines – often identical – demonstrate the skill actresses Barbara Anthony (playing Mary Smith) and Gail Scott (playing Barbara Smith).
Manion’s hilarious portrayal of Smith’s downward spiral begins with an initial insouciant attitude which melts away quickly as he piles lie upon lie to try to salvage his meticulously constructed canard.
“At length,” Shakespeare wrote, “the truth will out,” but playwright Cooney exploits the guile-spawned predicament to its fullest potential, nimbly steering his characters through increasingly complex madcap situations. Each new twist brings more laughter from the audience. Watching Smith squirm as tries to preserve his charade is delectable.
In addition to his starring role, Manion shares directing responsibilities with Robin New on this production.
Michael Crockett stars as Stanley Gardner, Smith’s neighbor who is roped into assisting Smith with his fibbery and fakery. Jennifer Sloane and Bill Henricks each play police detectives trying to put the puzzle pieces together and unravel Smith’s scheme. Joseph Alan Johnson brings a new level of craziness into the action when he appears as Bobby Franklin, another neighbor, who coincidentally steps in the middle of the madness.
With its delightfully absurd plot, zany situations and wonderfully exaggerated characters, the Early Bird troupe has done a marvelous job adapting “Run For Your Wife” ... and that’s no lie.