MIDVALE — Although ousted from the Sugar Factory Theater just three days before opening night, the cast bounces back and gives an impressive performance in See How They Run. The actors pull through with surprising ease, and ironically enough, the situation only adds to the humor of an already hilarious show.
Set in England during the 1940’s, the comedy follows a day in the life of a vicar, Reverend Lionel Toop. While he normally leads a quiet life, a series of inopportune events (including a bottle of cooking sherry, a nosy neighbor, an intruder, a slight misunderstanding, and a few too many vicars) leads to a hilarious game of who’s who.
The entire play takes place in a cozy house in a vicarage. The set was originally built for a 48-foot stage and had to be scaled down to fit the 25-foot stage in the Midvale Performing Arts Center. Despite the changes, the layout was perfect for the action with several exits and places to hide.
Much can be said for the casting in the play. The nine-member cast gives a delightful performance with an impressive array of accents. The action is slow to start, but once all the characters have been introduced mayhem quickly sets in.
Ida (Elise Groves), the Toop’s all-knowing maid, and Ms. Skillon (Kate Bedore), the Toop’s nosy neighbor, easily stole the show. With a little help from her British neighbor, Groves had an accent much like the early Eliza Dolittle in “My Fair Lady.” Groves plays such a convincing role that it was jarring to hear her speak without an accent after the show. With her raspy voice and inquisitive nature, Bedore remains in character, even during intermission. Bob Bedore well portrays the brass, impulsive American soldier, Corporal Clive Winton. Each of the male performers likewise look and act their parts well.
I was disappointed, however, with the leading lady, Penelope Toop (Heather Shelley). Her performance was rather amateur and paled in comparison to the other, more seasoned actors. Although playing opposite her real husband, there lacked chemistry between Mrs. Toop and the Reverend Toop (Eric Shelley).
Even between the lines, the actors’ facial expressions and actions make for a roaring good time. At one point, while Mrs. Toop is distracting a newly arrived vicar, Ida must somehow get rid of Ms. Skillon. She attempts to carry, slide, drag, and otherwise dispose of the unconscious woman, before finally shoving her in a closet. This and many other scenes demonstrate how Director Michelle Groves does much to capitalize on every opportunity for humor.
The play promises to be a “powder keg of comedy with a very short fuse,” and it delivers. While the actors are desperately trying to piece together the puzzle, the audience can sit back and enjoy the ride, laughing all the way.
See How They Run plays Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays through March 29. The show starts at 7:30 p.m. at the Midvale Performing Arts Center located in Midvale at 695 West 7720 South. Tickets are $7 and may be purchased at the door. For more information call 801-294-1242 or visit SugarFactoryPlayhouse.com.