Johnson City Community Theatre flexed its comedic muscles in the spring with the three act English comedy, See How They Run written, by Phillip King. Not being familiar with many British titles, I was mistaken in my assumption that the title came from The Beatles song Lady Madonna but through some research I have found the inspiration for the title actually came from the classic nursery rhyme “Three Blind Mice”. The comedic farce is set in the vicarage of the fictional village of Merton-cum-Middlewick and is filled with cases of mistaken identity, multiple doors, and many vicars.
The story centers on Penelope Toop (Tatum Spears) a former actress (and American) who is now the wife of the local vicar, Reverend Lionel Toop (Luke Cochran) and their cockney maid, Ida (Vickey Livesay). The laughter began very early as local parishioner, Miss Skillon (Heather Eaton), expressed her dislike of Mrs. Toop’s improper behavior…and in public no less. The vicar’s dismissive and uninterested responses to Miss Skillon’s complaints regarding his wife set the tone of the production perfectly and offered plenty of opportunities for quiet giggles and even a few open guffaws. In lovely contrast to Cochran’s low key approach was Spears’ more over the top (and stereotypical American) performance as Penelope.
Miss Skillon, however, is not the only visitor to the vicarage this particular evening. After Reverend Toop departs to tend to some charitable business, Mrs. Toop receives a surprise visit from an old ‘acting buddy’. As a means to be able to spend an evening on the town together without causing a stir, Mrs. Toop dresses her friend, U.S. Army Corporal Clive Winston (Richard Nave), as a vicar and the cases of mistaken identity begin. Next to arrive is Mrs. Toop’s uncle, the Bishop of Lax (Richard Lura) followed by a Russian Spy (escaped from a war camp (Dodger Davis)), Rev. Arthur Humphrey (whom Cpl. Winston is impersonating (Shawn Landreth)), and Sargent Towers (Matt Kilby).
The layout of the performance space at JCCT works wonderfully for the many comings and goings of the various actors and actresses involved in the cartoon style chase scenes that run up stairs, out doors, in through other doors, down stairs, around furniture…it was exhausting (and hilarious) to watch! The set was quite well done with an upstairs area, visible closet, a lovely set of French doors opening to a backyard setting, just to name a few of the key elements. The accessories were period appropriate as were the costumes. My only area of concern would be in regards to the hairstyles of a few of the actors. I would have preferred to have seen those portraying the clergymen as well as the young man in the role of the Army Corporal with hair that was considerably less unkempt.
Overall, the show was very enjoyable and certainly worth seeing. I feel bad for anyone that missed out on the chance to catch the show during its run and I feel even worse if they missed it because we weren’t able to get the review out before the production closed!
Don’t forget to check out the JCCT website to keep up with all of their upcoming productions and auditions!