Run for your Wife

Before Einstein and Heisenberg, it was believed that no two things could happen in the same place at the same time. But, contrapositively, we've learned that, indeed, some things (quanta) can be in two places at once. That may seem like a remarkable feat, but in Ray Cooney's Run for your Wife, now in production at Miners Alley Playhouse, we are introduced to a British cab driver who has one-upped all those light particles by managing to be married to two women and maintain two households in the same space-time continuum.

In America, such a story would end in tragedy; in France it would elicit yawns; but in England this is grounds for a farce. Director Wade P. Wood had cleverly set the stage as two apartments that overlap, with only the two telephones at either end of a shared couch existing in their own discreet dimension. Otherwise, players come and go, passing one another without seeing each other, using the same doors to enter and exit into and out of different realities. Yet there is a growing sense of foreboding that somehow, someway, someone is going to run into somebody, and the cabbie's clever ruse will be discovered.

Photo of Shannon Zimmerman as Barbara Smith, Chris Bleau as John Smith, and Kristin Fuhrmann Clark as Mary Smith
Shannon Zimmerman as Barbara Smith,
Chris Bleau as John Smith, and
Kristin Fuhrmann Clark as Mary Smith
Chris Bleau, as John Smith (everyman's fantasy), is a natural at personifying the subterfuge and spontaneous storytelling necessary to maintain such a preposterous arrangement. With his good looks, winsome smile, and a mischievous mindset, Bleau makes it look easy and, most importantly, fun, as he races from one woman to another, keeping two home fires burning.

Bleau's Smith is aided in this ambitious undertaking by his upstairs neighbor, Stanley Gardner, who quickly gets mired in his friend's marital quicksand. As Gardener, John Rael balances a best friend's concern with a dupe's resentment, when he joins Smith as a suspect in an investigation conducted by two of Scotland Yard's finest.

Photo of Shannon Zimmerman as Barbara Smith and Chris Bleau as John Smith
Shannon Zimmerman as Barbara Smith
and Chris Bleau as John Smith
Though there are a couple of occasions when his characters break form in order to advance the plot, playwright Cooney's imagination generally shines as he manipulates circumstance, coincidence, syntax, sexual innuendo, and decorum until our everyday world has been turned upside down and inside out in a frantic attempt to save Smith's skin.

Kristin Fuhrmann Clark and Shannon Zimmerman are the wronged women, Mary Smith and Barbara Smith, each of whom is living in unsuspecting connubial bliss until their mutual husband is involved in a traffic accident. Clark's Mary, as wife #1, is the long-suffering, conventional partner, content to let her husband's erratic schedule dictate their lifestyle. Zimmerman's Barbara, wife #2, is a free spirit, having popped the question to her man. She takes John's odd hours in stride, consistent with her unconventional, liberated tastes. Clearly the playwright plays no favorites between generations.

Photo of Pete Smith as Detective Seargeant Porterhouse and Kristin Fuhrmann Clark as Mary Smith
Pete Smith as Detective Sergeant Porterhouse
and Kristin Fuhrmann Clark as Mary Smith
Jeff Haas is Bobby Franklin, Stanley Gardner's counterpoint, the gay upstairs neighbor at Barbara's apartment, whose timely intrusions send the already stratospheric goings on into orbit. Pete Nelson and Brian Murray are a one-two punch as the good cop/bad cop, and Andrew Hall punctuates the proceedings as the impetuous newspaper reporter.

Director Wood keeps things hopping until the coup de grâce sneaks up and hits us over the head. Miners Alley Playhouse's snappy Run for your Wife runs through June 5th. 303-935-3044.

Bob Bows


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