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‘The Fox on the Fairway’ is a comedic gem

The Millbrook Review

I was in Connecticut for a family birthday and almost missed “The Fox on the Fairway.” So happy I didn’t. It’s a comedic gem.

Set in the tap room of the Quail Valley Golf and Country Club, the play opens on tournament day, with Quail Valley pitted against Crouching Squirrel, and – as the stakes are raised precipitously – with the fate of each of its six players suddenly on the line.

The stage set, beautifully designed by Stephen Cyr, gives us the visual context. Here in this upscale setting, with its cozy bar, its stone facade, and its beamed ceiling, we are about to see all the rules we’ve put in place to maintain the game of civilized life upended, overturned and broken. Get ready for non-stop hilarity!

With all the high jinx, it’s a challenge to keep our eye on the ball. But the cast makes sure that each metaphorical hook, slice and shank, each bogey and worm-burner, offers an opportunity for added merriment.

As head of the Quail Valley Club, Jeb Krivisky plays the besieged Henry Bingham with finesse. Without over-acting, he carries the weight of the play’s absurdities with just enough convincing sincerity to sweep us into the action. His counterpart, played by Joshua Beasley, creates the character of Dickie Bell, head of the Crouching Squirrel country club, as a tribute to Dom DeLuise. He does his muse proud as he prances about in his aggressively ugly golf sweaters, taunting everyone around him from the heights of his presumed success. His imitation of a Crouching Squirrel on the offensive is not to be missed. Tim Vasey is wonderfully fluid as Justin Hicks, moving through his character’s many incarnations – from naive yes-boy to accidental hero on pain meds – with ease.

The women, in addition to providing the romantic mandate required by every farce to mix and match, are successful characters in their own right.

Melody Ladd, as Pamela Peabody, begins as a stereotypical hardened divorcee, only to reveal the fires of new life starting up in her heart. Always quick with a comeback, she claims “hysterical blindness” when caught in a compromising position, and the resulting mayhem – as she staggers around the stage – is a highlight of the show. Margaret Warrington comes to the part of Muriel Bingham, shrew, harpy and harridan, from her role earlier in the season as the gentle Toad. And although we have been trained in this show to see her as the badgering nag and fishwife, by the time she appears she is able to imbue Muriel with enough of that underlying sweetness that we forgive her everything. And finally (stay with me!), Megan Ghorashy plays the delightful, surprising Louise, whose immersion in the reading of the “Iliad” provides her with an unexpected persona fierce enough to overcome all obstacles, including the defeat of Troy – or is it Quail Valley Golf Club?

The writing by Ken Ludwig, who also wrote the Tony Award-winning “Lend Me a Tenor,” is clever and captivating. Surprising references to the Greeks along the way suggest what might happen if a classical play or epic were turned into a farce, allowing us to see some of our most dramatic moments as, at heart, amusing brushstrokes in the Little Picture.

The play is beautifully directed by Aaron White, who is making his debut at Millbrook this season. One of its best moments is the Amazing Vase Toss, a feat that needs to be carefully choreographed, and is — to the astonishment of the audience.

A woman sitting behind me said afterward that she had come back to see the play again, partly because she wanted to see the Vase Toss once more. And then there is the mimed, fast-motion recap at the very end. Greek play as silent movie? It’s all wonderful. Don’t miss it.

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