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Thursday, June 6, 2013

Sunset’s Hole in One

Laughing all the way to the Fairway

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A timely, golf-themed farce is scoring a hole in one at Sunset Playhouse. The Fox on the Fairway is the perfect lighter fare for playgoers seeking clever characters, a screwball plot and the ugliest collection of golf sweaters one could imagine. The show plays at the Sunset Playhouse in Elm Grove through June 16.

The Fox on the Fairway piles on laughs from its first moments when cast members stroll through the set to offer some famous perspectives on golf. For instance, “A good walk ruined” is Mark Twain’s definition of the game.

However, the play soon settles down to business—the country club business, to be exact. The managers of two rival country clubs anticipate their annual golf tournament.  Their obvious distain for each other leads to some hefty bets on the tournament’s outcome. The play is set inside the taproom of one of the clubs, where six actors each attempt to gain the upper hand. There are plenty of laughs and several budding romances ensnaring members of both clubs.

Under Diana Alioto’s direction, the action is well paced throughout. Perhaps the most impressive comic stunt is a “hot potato game” involving half the cast. They toss a “priceless” antique vase to one another.  The timing for such shenanigans must be spot-on—and it is.

In golf-crazed Wisconsin, this farce is certain to gain attention among both golfers and non-golfers alike. Playwright Ken Ludwig, who honed his comic chops on Lend Me a Tenor, again displays his talent for creating a madcap romp. Ludwig skewers the country club lifestyle as well as the sport of golf. The differences between men and women are fair game, too.

The cast is uniformly fine, although particular mention must be made of Alicia Rice, who plays a sexy, savvy country club vice president, and Matthew Patten as the hosting club’s manager. Patten has every right to be jittery, as his character’s job is on the line. Both actors demonstrate the ability to evoke hysteria without going completely over the top.

The Fox on the Fairway may not improve one’s golf game, but it certainly will create conversation afterwards about the awful-looking outfits designed by Aria Thornton. No combination of plaids, prints and stripes is beyond her imagination, it seems. The handsome set will surely evoke memories for some. As in any good farce, the set has entrances and exits galore. Despite some hair-raising moments, the play ends happily and every character turns out to be a champion in the long run.

The play runs through June 16 at the Furlan Auditorium, 800 Elm Grove Road. For tickets, call 262-782-4430 or visit sunsetplayhouse.com.