Friday, August 27, 2004

Play review: Caught in the Net, Ray Cooney

We went over to the Brown County Playhouse to see this. As of tonight, I am officially a Big Fan of Ray Cooney; I thought before we went to see the play that I'd recognized the name, and reading the program I recognized a couple of other titles of his that I'd seen. I'm not a play-going afficionado by any means, especially since the three-year-old was born, but I try to get to a few plays every year. Cooney specializes in the British farce; that is a play where the main character tells a lie to cover some indiscretion or problem of his, then has to go on inventing bigger and bigger lies to try to keep holding everything together. In this one, the main character is a man with two wives in different parts of London, and a teenaged child by each one, who eventually meet over the Internet.

As it starts out, you assume the man (played by Jonathan Molitor) is going to be the main prevaricator, since he has been holding the two households together for many years, but it soon turns out that his reluctant buddy Stanley Gardner (Scot Purkeypile) has the real creative genius, coming up with a series of lies to tell every character, and almost holding the whole thing together until the very end. I was impressed by Mr. Purkeypile, who had a real sense of physical humor. He had just finished playing Froggy in The Foreigner, and I kept looking at him and thinking how perfect he must have been in that part.

The play started out a little rough. Watching comedies, I pay a lot of attention to timing, and I thought the timing of a few of the lines was a little rough. But things quickly smoothed out, and midway through the first half I was lost in the action and trying to keep track of which character knew what. That's always how I know a play's gotten good, if I'm no longer paying to the dynamics of it. Before the end there were plenty of moments that had the audience rolling in the aisles.

Playhouse tickets were $17, even before you get into the ridiculous Ticketmaster fees. (I once tried to order tickets to a museum through there, and children under 10 were free. Ticketmaster wanted to charge me a $3 handling fee for my free ticket. Wrong.) You can get them without additional fees at the IU box office, but it still strikes me as a little high. Maybe I'm getting old, though; I think most things are ridiculously overpriced. Oh well, I'll certainly be back next year if another Cooney play is on.