Tuesday, October 28, 2014

theatre review CAUGHT IN THE NET, Palms Theatre, Oct. 18

To read my review at Talkin' Broadway, click here.
Victor Legarreta (top) and
Erik Hogan

Adding to the inspired hilarity they created with their production of Run for Your Wife, which opened last week, The Palms Theatre just opened their production of Ray Cooney's sequel to that show, Caught in the Net. The sequel is just as effective as Cooney's other famous farce and The Palms' production has expert direction, perfectly timed comic performances, and an ending that is an inspired payoff to the craziness on stage.

Caught in the Net takes place fifteen years after Run for Your Wife. John Smith is still married to two women with two separate homes, and still keeping everything in order, thanks to a well-scheduled timetable that allows him equal time with both women. His latest problem? His two teenage children, one from each wife, have found each other online, and are making plans to meet up, a plan that could foil John's perfect situation. His double life is at the brink of spiraling once again out of control. With help from his lazy neighbor Stanley, John tells lies that pile up as the two attempt to keep the kids from meeting each other—with all out lunacy once again prevailing.

Director Victor Legarreta again shows his skill in not only directing the extremely well-timed cast members but in playing the part of John. His ability to portray John as a simple man whose not so simple life is a complete mess is perfect. In the second act he gets a chance to deliver John's elaborate plan to resolve everything, which he intensely relays with fast talking, comical precision. Legarreta's direction of the quick succession of fast moving interjections, door slams, and entrances is meticulous. The opening sequence, which involves both of John's wives and his two kids, is even more intricate than the opening scene in Run For Your Life, with the Palms cast in perfect sync as they deliver the fast-paced dialogue.

The seven-member cast consists of six of the Run for Your Wife actors plus Jessica Webb as John and Mary's daughter Vickie. Erik Hogan once again is hilarious as the slacker, unemployed Stanley, whose involvement in John's dilemma isn't always helpful. Shannon Connolly as Mary fortunately seems to have even more to do in the sequel, and her constant barking at Stanley and the looks of rage she throws are superb. Caitlin Newman brings so much charm to the part of Barbara that it helps balance Mary's anger and disappointment. Jesse Staubach and Mark Kleinman, who play the two policemen inRun for Your Wife, take different roles in the sequel. Staubach portrays Gavin, John and Barbara's son, and he instills a perfectly sweet nature to the part. Kleinman plays Stanley's mumbling, confused father with hilarious results. As the new addition to the cast, Webb, who is only a senior in college, holds her own with the more experienced actors. All seven employ crisp English accents beautifully.

Creative elements are the same as the earlier play, with set and props designer Thomas R. Prather's double living room set and Mary Atkinson's costumes period perfect with nicely detailed touches. Erik Hogan's sound design includes phone calls and door chimes delivered in perfectly timed precision from stage manager Cindy Farnsworth.

Full of flawless comic timing, many moments of physical humor, and an ending that ties everything up with a big grinning bow, The Palms' production of Caught in the Net is just as entertaining and charming as their production of Run for Your Wife. With a perfect cast and flawless direction, any fan of British farce can't go wrong with the double hit of these two very funny Ray Cooney comedies.

The Palms Theatre productions of Ray Cooney's Run for Your Wife and Caught in the Net play in repertory through November 15th, 2014 at 5247 East Brown Road in Mesa. Tickets and information for their upcoming productions can be found at https://thepalmstheatre.com or by calling 480 924-6260

Photo: Palms Theatre

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