REVIEW: Drayton Entertainment’s See How They Run is bedlam at its best

The laugh-o-meter topped out and blew its gaskets on the opening  night performance of See How They Run.

A noisy lot, audience mem­bers  roared, chuckled, snorted and wiped streaming tears throughout the entire pro­duction.

Everyone needs a good laugh, as did the British Armed Forces, for whom the play was written during World War II. First staged in 1944, occasion­ally amidst dropping bombs, the script  by Philip King  was just the tonic, and still leaves a good afterglow. The actors in this show work hard and suc­ceed in making the most of the gleeful  tomfoolery of this Brit­ish farce, where wit and plot do not abound.

The premise, ripe to go awry, involves a Vicarage, a vivacious Vicar’s wife, a sus­pi­cious, nosy spinster, various friends of the cloth and the odd interloper. When the Vicar’s wife is accused of unseemly conduct, the plot thickens quickly and the idyllic vicarage at Meron-cum-Middlewick is soon awash in mistaken scan­dal, identity and unravelling dignity.

Karen Wood, as  the  dimi­nu­tive maid with the big stage presence, gets the biggest laughs. Her exaggerated facial  ex­pressions, Cockney accent and precise movements lend much to her sassy character.

Jane Moffat, as Miss Skil­lon, goes from “pickled her­ring” to “wreck of the Hesperus” as her repression disappears along with the cooking sherry. She is a great sport with this rather undignified role.

Robin Ward, the ever handsome and recognizable star of Dray­ton Entertainment and the CTV Net­work, plays the Bishop of Lax with authority and just the right touch of disdain.

Stephanie McNamara  plays the vivacious one, Vicar’s wife Penelope Toop, with flair.

Paul McQuillan is the dash­ing Corporal Clive Winton, form­er acting friend of Penel­ope’s, who riotously regresses to his uniform-obsessed per­so­na as the chips go flying.

Phil Martin, always a strong presence on stage, is the perfect Russian escaped prisoner with his menacing appearance and  uncanny attempts at producing a demurring expression as he pretends to be the Vicar himself.

It is apparent that director Marcia Kash has  extracted the most from the play and from each of the characters with her timing and comedic expertise.

Set and costume design by Allan Wilbee combines the aes­thetically pleasing and period appropriate with a number of strongly reinforced doors.

See How They Run is bed­lam at its best.

It plays through to Aug 29. Tickets may be purchased by calling the Drayton Festival Theatre box office at 519- 638-5555 or toll free at 1-888-449-4463.

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