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‘See How They Run’ can’t stay up to speed

Dink O’Neal

Take one English vicarage, toss in a nosey parishioner, and top

off with the wackiest maid since Shirley Booth as well as an escaped

Russian spy, and the recipe for farce should be complete, as it is in

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Glendale Centre Theatre’s “See How They Run.”

Still, longtime GCT director George Strattan, whose previous

theatrical mining has resulted in gold, provides an evening of

by-the-book shenanigans operating at 45 rpm rather than the 78

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required for a farce to stay ahead of its audience.

Performances are strong and laughs do abound in this season

opener, but the very thing for which this theater is quaintly known

slows the proceedings: the theater’s interior architecture.

Farces demand a number of doorways facilitating requisite chases

and just-missed opportunities for characters to witness occurrences

that would clear up the whole mess were they to cross paths.

Actors are hampered with lengthy traffic patterns because a

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crucial closet door is placed at the top of one of the theater’s main

entrance staircases.

Enjoyable regardless of the pace are Ferrell Marshall as the

Vicar’s American wife, Penelope, and James Castle Stevens as Clive

Winton, a friend from her days on the stage now stationed in

post-World War II England.

The chemistry here is flawless, with Stevens displaying a

physicality that must beg for chiropractic attention after each

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performance.

Supporting admirably are Sonje Fortag’s exasperatedly loyal

housemaid, Ida, Jim Barkley as the visiting Rev. Humphrey, whose

cluelessness is hilarious, and Richard Malmos as blustering Sgt.

Towers, a military commander bent on straightening out the confusion.

Playwright Philip King’s inappropriately articulate dialogue can

be blamed for the case of wandering accent suffered by John Duncan as

the escaped Russian.

Strattan’s drawing-room set allows plenty of space for the

countless fainting, knockouts and other shtick while top-notch

costumer Debbie Gluck probably ran herself ragged coming up with not

one, but four ministerial suits.

Worthy of your attendance? Yes. This piece needs only some pace

tightening and paring of repetitive physical bits in order to live

up to its promising title.


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