By Bebe Vocong
"Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive," best describes the underlying theme in Run For Your Wife. This comedy tells the story of John Smith (J. Sean Elliot), a seemingly ordinary British taxi driver whose double life slowly unravels after a simple heroic deed. John has been living in a London apartment with his wife Mary (Shawna Burnett) for the past two years. Unbeknownst to Mary, just a few blocks away is John’s other residence where he lives with his second wife Barbara (Jill Hayman). Having an irregular work schedule has allowed John to maintain the secrecy of his perfect double life.
One night, however, his life takes a turn for the worse after an attempt to save an old lady from muggers. From that pivotal moment on, John tries desperately to conceal his secret from his wives and the police by telling outrageous fibs. John’s upstairs neighbour Stanley Gardner (Don Lee Sparks) aids in the deception with explosive results.
The play is slightly confusing for the first few minutes of act one when both Barbara and Mary share the stage, but are oblivious to each other’s presence. It takes a couple of minutes to realize the stage is set up in such a way that both apartments are seen at the same time without a visible border dividing the two. Therefore, simultaneous events occurring in both residences are sometimes a distraction. Luckily, this element of the play diminishes significantly in the second act.
In act one, it takes some time to understand the unique circumstances of the characters and the plot is rather slow moving. The ending is somewhat predictable with one surprising twist.
Although the setting of the play is modern-day London, hardly any of the actors have believable English accents. Worse yet, some of the characters (i.e. John Smith) exhibit no accent. Perhaps the play should have been set in North America to better accommodate this lack of consistent accents affecting most of the cast.
Regardless of this minor defect, the acting is superb once the actors are past the first scene. Sparks shows true comedic presence throughout the play as the bumbling Gardner.
Also, Stephen Hair’s Detective Sergeant Porterhouse creates such an uproar in the second act with his matter-of-fact approach to the dire situation. Both female leads are terrific in their dignified portrayal of the two strong, but utterly confused, wives.
This comedic play was thoroughly enjoyable, more so than other British comedies produced in the past. The whole audience laughed loudly throughout the play. Run For Your Wife plays for the next seven weeks at Stage West.