LOGAN — I do not know much about golf. I know there are balls and tees and clubs. I know there are different kinds of clubs called putters and drivers and niblick? Is that really what that is called? I know that lower numbers are better than higher numbers, and “under par” is good. So, I was a little intimidated when I got the assignment to review A Fox on the Fairway, produced as part of the Lyric Repertory Company’s 2022 season and playing in Logan this summer. I mean, a fairway is part of a golf course, right?
I need not have worried. A Fox on the Fairway, written by Ken Ludwig, is less a play about golf than it is a love letter to farce, slapstick, and silliness. The play is written in the style of theatre and films from the 1930s and ’40s, which tend to include lots of slamming doors, mistaken identities, high-stakes wagers, and more than one pair of lovers. It is delightful, fun, campy, and most definitely not to be taken too seriously.
The story is set at the Quail Valley Country Club on the day it faces its oldest rival, Crouching Squirrel Golf and Racquet Club, for the golf tournament of the decade. Both owners marshal their best players to bring honor and glory to their respective clubs (think Greece and Troy, but without the wooden horse.) Subterfuge-stooping, rule-bending, and plot-twisting ensue, along with break-ups, make-ups, long-lost family members, and a Ming Dynasty vase that somehow gets shoe-horned into the hijinks.
All the cast members deserve notice, as they were all very fine and fully invested in the ridiculousness onstage. Brandon Foxworth as Bingham, owner of Quail Valley, and Herb Newsome as Dickie, owner of the Crouching Squirrel, set up their hilarious rivalry from their first scene and ran with it. Sydnee Fullmer as hard-drinking, looking-for-love Pamela brought humor and wit to her role, and Brittany Deneen completely commanded the stage when she appeared late in act one.
Director Richie Call and the cast of six performers worked well together to bring the physical comedy in this play to life. Call chose a very broad style of acting, which was evident from the very first heel-popping kiss that the two young lovers (Ryan Adams as Justin and Bailee Miner as Louise) steal when they think no one is looking. From there, the cast engages in more and more slapstick humor reminiscent of the Marx Brothers or the Three Stooges. I can imagine that Call had a ball working with these actors. Call’s blocking and pacing were outstanding, one of the strongest elements of the performance, with so much humor added through non-verbal communication, body language, and facial expression as to keep the audience interested and entertained throughout.
Fullmer and Foxworth in particular played off one another so well in their several scenes. It was delightful to watch them work together. Particularly, I enjoyed watching them problem-solve a wine bottle with a stubborn cork and and play through an unfortunate incident with an oyster (which may not have been planned, but was very funny nonetheless).
The unit set designed by Morgan Dawn Golightly was functional and provided a serviceable floorplan to give the director and actors lots of options for blocking. As the play was supposed to take place in the tap room of a very old and venerated country club, I expected more in the way of memorabilia on the walls and tables and shelves. Instead, the set seemed rather plain and somewhat empty. But again, it provided a good area for all the running around and did not detract from the action. Similarly, the lighting design by Claire Chrzan clearly informed the audience as to time of day and the weather conditions and helped move the story along. The costumes were simple and well-done, giving insight into status and personality for each character. Act one was strictly daytime wear for the club members and staff, with some appropriately crazy mismatched obnoxious golf outfits thrown in for humor. The ongoing joke about Dickie’s awful sweaters was particularly cute. Costume designer Lydia Semler pulled out the stops for act two, giving each woman a beautiful evening gown and handsome tuxedoes for the men, but Louise’s sexy little red number stole the show.
A Fox on the Fairway is a fun and funny piece of lighthearted theatre. It is simply a delightful interlude, a momentary escape from whatever bogs you down. The show lets you smile and laugh for a bit. The plotline is funny, if somewhat contrived, and there is never really any doubt as to the final outcome. But it is fun watching the characters get there. I would recommend A Fox on the Fairway, especially because it is a play that is not often produced in Utah. Audiences will have a blast . . . no knowledge of golf necessary.