By Brenda Jefferies
Village Theatre will hit the ground running this season, as the Waterdown troupe kicks off its 40th year of entertaining local audiences. And to make it extra memorable, the VT executive has chosen an all-comedy playbill for its 2012-2013 productions.
The first offering, Run for Your Wife, is a title that has been around since the 1980s, said director Andrew Finnigan. “I think it will appeal to a wide adult audience base, say, teens and up,” he said as he prepared for a recent rehearsal.
“It’s a silly, silly farce,” added Elaine Hale who, as part of the script selection committee, chose the Ray Cooney piece to launch VT’s fourth decade. “I read it and went, ‘That’s funny,’ and there’s not a lot of cost.”
The plot of Run for Your Wife, a “traditional British farce,” centres around taxi driver John Smith (played by Julian Ford) and his unusual married life – his mornings are devoted to wife Barbara, and his evenings are devoted to wife Mary – that suddenly is starting to unravel.
After successfully juggling both households for three years, it all comes crashing down when he is injured while intervening in a mugging and the police return him to the wrong home at the wrong time. Hilarity, natch, ensues. So much so, the actors had a tough time keeping it together on stage, which is set up to show action in the two apartments simultaneously.
“The hardest part is pretending that people are not in your apartment,” said Hale, who plays Mary. “There is all this chaos going on that you’re not allowed to see.”
Finnigan is hoping the upbeat fare will introduce VT to a new generation of theatre lovers. “The audience is changing; we’ve seen a decline in audiences over the past eight years,” he said. “And comedies are always a hit in a tough economy.”
With a simple set, straightforward costumes and a small cast, Run for Your Wife is a departure from some of the musical extravaganzas VT has tackled in the past.
“Last year, we went to crowd-pleasers like Rocky Horror and The Mousetrap. Rocky Horror was popular, but it was a big undertaking for us,” explained Finnigan. “We can’t do those every time.”
Village Theatre doesn’t often turn to farce, a genre that places realistic characters in unrealistic situations.
Finnigan, is up to the challenge.
“I particularly like farce; I’d like to be the first one to do it with Village Theatre and see how it flies,” he said, noting that the quality of writing is so good, “You could literally read it from the script, and still have people laughing.”
While the play is not technically challenging in terms of lighting and design, the onus will be on the actors to pull off the precise timing and delivery required to make the whole thing work.
Finnigan is confident they can rise to the occasion and deliver slapstick and misdirection with the best of them.
“I know the play is going to give good entertainment value,” he said.
Village Theatre will round out its 40th anniversary season with Steve Martin’s The Underpants in late February and its telling of The Emperor’s New Clothes in April. In addition, its home venue, Memorial Hall on Dundas Street in Warterdown, will undergo $40,000 in renovations starting in May.
The upgrades include the installation of air conditioning next year, followed by the addition of an elevator in 2014.
Run for Your Wife will premiere on Friday, Nov. 16 and run for three weekends. Showtime is 8 p.m., with Sunday matinees on Nov. 18 and 25 at 2 p.m.
Tickets cost $20 each ($18 for seniors and students) and are available at Jitterbug Café and Pickwick Books in Waterdown, or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.