A sport that evokes images of privileged men in grotesque outfits (mixed prints! plus fours!) strolling (or riding in a cart) along manicured swards while paid lackeys carry their accoutrements and fetch them drinks isn't merely a choice target for farce and satire. It's wearing a giant bull's-eye on its ass with flashing LEDs that spell out "RIDICULE ME!"
In The Fox on the Fairway, playwright Ken Ludwig gleefully obliges, poking fun at the inherently silly facets of the game via over-the-top absurdities, outrageous stereotypes and all-around buffoonery. Against the backdrop of über- ostentatious Quail Valley Country Club, three couples — one engaged, one married and one divorced — participate in an inter-club golf tournament and find their lives becoming more and more intertwined with each drive, pitch and putt.
Young and sensitive Justin (Michael Amoroso), thrilled with his recently acquired steady job at Quail Valley, proposes marriage to his bright-eyed, naive girlfriend, fellow Quail underling Louise (Julia Crump). Bingham (Ed Reggi), Quail Valley's president, has just learned that the golfer poised to bring his club its first championship in five years has switched allegiance and joined forces with Bingham's nemesis, Dickie (Bob Harvey). Naturally, the Quail Valley honcho doesn't get wind of the switcheroo until moments after he arrogantly bets the proverbial farm — six figures and his wife's beloved antique shop — on the tournament's outcome. Desperate, Bingham forms an alliance with Pamela (Jenni Ryan), his high school sweetheart (who also happens to be Dickie's ex-wife), and she promptly enlists the aforementioned Justin (who happens to be a scratch golfer). Trouble is, Justin's prone to mood swings that seriously wreck his backswing, and this day is turning out to be an emotional doozy.
All the birdieing, bogeying and tromping about in the rough provides a context for a love story that's both cynical and sweet. Love of the young, aged and unrequited varieties intermingle as partners are swapped and settle into more fitting relationships, forging out of the game's unpredictable nature a metaphor for that wily old fox we call romance. And although the relentless strain of links-related humor teeters from wearisome to banal, with some truly funny moments interspersed (imagine Everybody Loves Raymond set at a lodge), the cast of this Insight Theatre Company production manages to steer clear of major hazards. Jenni Ryan's buoyant portrayal of Pamela, the elegant and sassy thrice-married socialite who warms up to Bingham while uniting in their common, destructive goal, is sincerely funny; Julia Crump's effervescence as the tiny yet larger-than-life Louise is a treat. Crump reminds us that this play is meant to be ridiculous, and she animates that ridiculousness splendidly.
As the unassuming and innocent Justin, Michael Amoroso fits the bill. All clunky limbs and disheveled curls, he's convincing and lovable as the perpetually pining infatuated boyfriend who gives away the family-heirloom engagement ring at first opportunity. Bob Harvey (coupled with his horrendous golf sweaters) makes a perfect Dickie, half bad guy, half endearing bozo.
The Fox on the Fairway is no King Lear, but under the energetic direction of Tlaloc Rivas, the play delivers a diverting night out. Beats staying home and staring at an umpteenth TBS screening of Caddyshack by at least a stroke, if not two.
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