Take my wife, please

“Protect the knickers,” the affable director jokingly warns his cast as actors Tracey Vance and Janos Zeller pose for a picture for a photographer in need of a money shot.

Despite the warning, someone gets a quick peek and mentions the knickers are yellow. The director calms Tracey Vance, saying “Don’t worry, they’ll just airbrush it out.”

Unfazed, director George Scott doesn’t ever seem to leave this state of calm. Run for Your Wife produced by Morpheus Theatre, marks the actor’s directorial debut and he’s up for the task. Written by Ray Cooney, the play has the distinction of being the British playwright’s most popular farce. Still, success in London does not mean an instant indie theatre hit. After all, London is a place where they eat pies made with kidney beans. It’s not just the pie, but the different views of comedy the two cultures have.

“My parents were British, so I grew up with stuff like Benny Hill, Monty Python and Fawlty Towers,” Scott explains. “It’s different stuff than North American comedies, which are a lot more physical, while the British stuff is clever plays on words and puns, with situation irony. Sometimes we’ll be going through the play and thinking, this is supposed to be funny, but nobody’s laughing. It’s my job to fix that, translate the British humour for North American audiences.”

Run For Your Wife is a typical British farce, with broad characters falling into a web of layered misunderstandings. It begins with John Smith, an average man who drives a taxi, thwarting a mugging. The paper wants to make him a front-page hero and the head injury he received in the mugging has completely thrown off his schedule. In John’s case, this is a very bad thing, on the account of him having two wives, Mary and Barbara.

His two lives, which he tried so hard to keep separate, disintegrates as one begins to interfere with the other. Not helping matters are the constant visits from two police officers and a gay neighbour, as John and his friend Stanley madly attempt to manipulate events to prevent the inevitable outcome.

The opening date for Run For Your Wife edges ever closer and there’s still much to be done. But George Scott is confident his cast will be in tip-top shape on opening night. Community theatre is theatre by the seat of your pants, where you always seem to end up barely getting by.

“Our set cost us $19,” says Scott, pointing at the stage. “Trading Spaces has nothing on us.”

Run for Your Wife runs Sept. 5-13 at the Pumphouse Theatre.

Also at the Pumphouse, the musical Ruthless, running Sept. 2-6. Buy soon, some shows are already sold out.

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