By Dale King
If your fancy runs to lively, energetic stage productions, See How They Run is likely your cup of tea. As with most British farces, the operative word in the title is “run.” And that’s what the characters do in this raucous, whimsical story at the Delray Beach Playhouse.
For its second show of the season, the Playhouse taps an interesting cadre of performers – many of them new to the DBP stage, but anchored by the familiar local actor Jim Tyminski.
Directed by veteran Delray theatrical helmsman Randolph DelLago, See How They Run draws its name from a lyric in the song, “Three Blind Mice.” The show has nothing to do with mice. But it does recall The Three Stooges, who used the mouse tune as their theme song.
Slapstick, running, jumping, slamming doors and other affectations of the farce motif are prevalent in this riotous spectacle written by Philip King and first produced in 1944.
The plot is fueled by a nosy neighborhood gossip named Miss Skillon (Spensyr Bach), who thinks nothing of spreading fake news – even though the play is set in 1943, during the height of World War II, long before the phrase became popular.
As the play opens, Penelope Toop (Amiekay Richcrick), a former actress now married to the local vicar, the Rev. Lionel Toop (Rory MacKay), receives a visit from an old friend and former fellow actor, Lance Cpl. Clive Winton (Tyminski). The pair decides to catch a play at a local theater, but Winton, to sidestep military regulations, dresses in one of the vicar’s suits – with the holy collar – instead of his uniform. To sneak off, they pretend to be visiting vicar Arthur Humphrey (Chris Mitchell), who is due to preach the Sunday sermon the following day.
While See How They Run is not a blockbuster farce, it offers a pleasant diversion and seems to please the audience, which, by the second weekend, had thinned out from the filled galleries of previous DBP shows.
The stage set is ideally old-fashioned, right down to the solid wooden doors, wallpapered walls and curtained French windows leading out to a garden backdrop – the work of scenic artist Cindi Taylor and her crew.
The play mixes in some bygone social mores that seem a bit outdated, but are points to ponder. Miss Skillon is rankled that Penelope wears trousers and was, in a former life, an actress. Such bad genes!
Bach doesn’t overplay her role as the town’s inquisitive, bike-riding gossip, so her nosiness is not so intrusive that it drives folks away. MacKay and Richcrick are charming as Mr. and Mrs. Toop. Amiekay is making her Delray debut, and the actor playing her husband studied theater and drama in London, so he’s familiar with dealings on that side of the pond.
Tyminski is devilishly dashing in his military uniform and understated acting style. Brewer is back on the DBP stage as the Bishop of Lax, having just completed the pivotal role of Bill in Calendar Girls. He made his mark with aplomb in both productions.
Buchanan is bizarrely funny as cockney maid Ida and Dean Christopoul tunes up his role as the German spy just enough for the audience to remember him.
See How They Run is playing through today at the Delray Beach Playhouse, 950 NW 9th St. (Lake Shore Drive), Delray Beach. Tickets are $35 and may be purchased online at www.delraybeachplayhouse or by calling 561-272-1281.