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'Run For Your Wife' a British farce done to perfection at Barn

Mary Smith, played by Stacey Neuhaus, left, has a word with the other Mrs. Smith, played by Aimee Holland, during a dress rehearsal performance of "Run For Your Wife." The production runs through Sunday at The Barn Theatre in Willmar. (Tribune photo by Ron Adams)

I've heard it said, "Dying is easy. Comedy is hard." and British farce is one of the most difficult types of comedy to do well. "Run For Your Wife" by Ray Cooney is one of the funnier and more chaotic British farces. Doing justice to this hysterical comedy is a herculean task, yet The Barn Theatre's latest ensemble pulls it off without a hitch! The audience laughed from beginning to end at this adult humor.

The plot centers on John Smith, played by Quincy Roers, who is a London cab driver. John has the unenviable dilemma of having a wife and apartment in two neighboring towns. That's right; John has two wives, and two apartments, and keeps a very hectic schedule to keep them apart.

His troubles arise when he is injured while rescuing a little old lady from a mugger. He is taken to the hospital for a minor head injury, but in his bewildered state, on his release he goes home to Wimbledon where he lives with his wife Mary, played by Stacey Neuhaus. The only problem is that this is the morning he was supposed to go home to Stratham, to his wife Barbara, played by Aimee Holland.

Mary insists he stay home and rest, but John needs to get home to Barbara to keep her from worrying. To make matters worse, a pushy reporter (Jordan Dettmann) takes his picture and puts it on the front page of the newspaper! John recruits the help of his unemployed friend Stanley, played by Tom E. Lee, to help sort things out, but of course this only leads to several cases of mistaken identity when the detectives from Wimbledon and Stratham -- played by Barn veterans, James Statz and Steve Gralish -- investigate the matter.

The roles are played brilliantly by the entire cast. Their timing -- crucial to this type of show -- was perfect and kept the audience in stitches throughout the performance. Especially impressive are the ladies in their "angry" scenes. It can be very difficult to "act" angry without going over the top, yet they both seemed to be yelling at their husband as if they had been doing it for years. Barbara's flamboyant neighbor Bobby Franklin (Joe Aufenthie) does a fabulous job of showing up at inopportune times!

Another brilliant aspect to this show is the set. While it is not complicated, it plays a vital role. The single-unit set serves as both apartments (or as the British say, "Flats"), so there are times when several actors are on stage, yet on opposite ends of town. Paul Schoenack did an amazing job of directing the actor's movements to both show that this is two places, yet never confuse the audience as to who-is-where.

"Run For Your Wife" runs today through Saturday at 7:30 p.m. with a Sunday matinee at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are available at The Barn Theatre box office, 321 Fourth St. S.W. in downtown Willmar, or by calling 235-9500.

Don't miss this brilliant comedy! It's one of the funniest shows the Barn has done in years.

Carol Olson lives in Willmar and has served as technical director for several productions at The Barn Theatre including "Annie," "My Fair Lady," "Don't Hug Me" series, etc. She also volunteers in a variety of roles throughout the theater.