A scene from "Run for Your Wife." Photo: Handout
MANILA – British critics decried the 2013 movie version as “a woeful piece of cinema.” But local reviewers are likely to be a lot kinder with Repertory Philippines’ latest staging of “Run for Your Wife,” which opened in London back in 1983 and ran for eight years.
For one, Rep has always done well with farces and Ray Cooney’s sex comedy about a bigamous taxi driver is the kind of light entertainment that the company’s stable of actors can do with their eyes closed. In fact, Rep has staged this play before: in 1986 and 2001.
“This is a timeless classic. Even if it’s an old play, it’s such a funny and well-written play,” director Miguel Faustmann said in a statement. “Ray Cooney is amazing with his comic humor. It’s just so funny.”
Faustmann is a perfect choice to direct this play. He has, after all, directed many of Rep’s recent comedies, including the well-reviewed “Boeing Boeing,” which also deals with infidelity. But more importantly, Faustmann knows Cooney’s work well, having starred in the two previous stagings in the lead role of cab driver John Smith, now played by a charming Jamie Wilson.
“Run for Your Wife” opens with the two wives Mary (Goldie Soon) and Barbara (Mikkie Bradshaw) making a phone call to their respective police stations to report their missing husband, John Smith, who it turns out had to be taken to the hospital after saving an elderly woman from two muggers.
Until that morning, John has been successful in juggling his two households. But when he accidentally gives one address to the police and the other address at the hospital, his secret is nearly blown and now has to concoct lies upon lies to the two women and the cops, as he shuttles back and forth between the two houses.
Also caught in this web of deceit is his neighbor and friend Stanley (Jeremy Domingo), who is just trying to help John cover his tracks. Hoping to throw the police off track, John tells the detective that he and Stanley are having a gay affair with each other.
The result is utter chaos – and hilarious theater. Indeed, as Faustmann wrote in his director’s notes, “Run for Your Wife” makes “your tummy ache from too much laughter.”
Faustmann successfully orchestrates the onstage action and the actors never miss a beat. Here, the exaggerated acting, the slapstick elements and the implausible plot work perfectly together to deliver an old-fashioned madcap comedy that is guaranteed to entertain.
Rep has assembled a cast that performs like clockwork, led by Wilson, who despite his character’s two-timing nature, manages to make the audience root for him.
The throwback humor can be offensive to more politically correct audiences – Cooney used the terms “pansies” and “poofter” to call homosexuals – but then again, this is a comedy about bigamy.
Just recently, media feasted on the news of a real-life Chinese Cassanova who was busted when his 17 girlfriends visited him when he was hospitalized.
Life can be funny that way.
“Run for Your Wife” runs until May 3 at Onstage Theater in Greenbelt 1, Makati City.