What you should know about Ken Ludwig’s The Fox on the Fairway is that it is a tribute to the great English farces of the 1930’s and 1940’s. It is a comedy playing at Stage West that features George Wendt (From ‘Cheers’). The puzzling thing about this play is that Ludwig is an internationally acclaimed playwright with 6 shows on Broadway and has three Tony award nominations but this play doesn’t demonstrate that. Stage West’s productions has some performers who do their best with the material, but The Fox on the Fairway is incredibly predictable and simplistic. The most engaging aspect is Wendt’s costuming.
The play tells of a yearly golf tournament at the Quail Valley Country Club that President Henry Bingley (Kevin Hare) has lost 4 years in a row to his opponent Dickie Bell (George Wendt). He lost his best gold player to Dickie and foolishly bet a large sum of money and something that belongs to his wife Muriel (Bernadette Birkett) that his club would win the tournament. He’s hoping that his vice president Pamela (Marianne McCord) will help along with his new hire Justin (Graham Parkhurst) and his waitress Louise (Melanie McInenly).
This play is a farce and tries so very hard to get the audience laughing. The script tries so hard that the audience can see the joke coming from a mile away. Hare tries his very best to channel John Cleese and is over the top while McCord is a great counterpart. They try and own the comedy of the show, but there is no subtlety or charm within the script for them to work with. McInenly is insufferable as Louise and she was written that way, but it’s enough to put up with her for two hours. McInenly and Parkhurst are both written as if they are teenagers but look like they are in their 20s at least. Wendt and Birkett are solid as supporting characters, though Dickie is painted as a character who got around with the ladies, which the audience isn’t quite sold on.
Ian Martens set design is strong, the set hitting the mark of an old country club. Rebecca Toon’s costume design for Wendt is one of the most amusing parts of the play.
If you’re looking to see George Wendt on stage and you don’t mind sitting through a script that is completely forced, then go see Stage West’s The Fox on the Fairway.
Stage West’s Production of The Fox on the Fairway runs until November 9th. More information is available online.