Meg Steedle in Ken Ludwig's A Fox on the Fairway
Photo by Scott Suchman


Fox on the Fairway’ A Satisfying Satire

By Barbara Mackay
Special to The Examiner
October 27, 2010

Ken Ludwig has a wicked sense of comedic anarchy. In the world premiere of his new play, “A Fox on the Fairway,” at Signature Theatre, he takes a handful of recognizable stock characters and endows them with such zany idiosyncrasies that they soar to dizzying heights — or is it depths? — of silliness. The result is an ambitious and satisfying satire not just of the golf world but of human nature.

Ludwig begins with two plot strands, which intertwine throughout the play. The first is a love story, in which a young man, Justin (Aubrey Deeker), is given the job of assistant to the head of the Quail Valley Country Club. His girlfriend, Louise (Meg Steedle), works as a waitress in the club. Now they have two salaries and can get engaged.

The second theme is the rivalry between the head of the Quail Valley Club, Bingham (Jeff McCarthy), and his nemesis, Dickie (Andrew Long), the head of the Crouching Squirrel Golf and Racquet Club. They fight over a golfer both of them want for their teams in an imminent tournament. And they make a big bet regarding who will win.

Since that star golfer has been signed up by the Crouching Squirrel Club, Bingham must find a substitute for his team. He’s desperate until he learns that his new employee, Justin, is a superb player. Bingham hastily signs up Justin to play in the tournament and Justin easily takes the lead. Until something happens to rattle his nerves: He fears that his wedding with Louise might not happen.

To get Louise and Justin back together and let Justin continue on to victory, Bingham and Dickie’s ex-wife, Pamela (Holly Twyford), conspire to set up a late-night champagne-and-candlelight dinner. Justin and Louise never get to the dinner, but Pamela and Bingham drink plenty of champagne and share a hilarious scene in which they’re almost too blitzed to stand.

In addition to Pamela and Louise, there’s a third woman in Ludwig’s play, Bingham’s wife, Muriel (Valerie Leonard), whom Bingham openly despises. With her commandolike personality, Leonard’s Muriel is the epitome of anger and aggression.

Directed by John Rando, “A Fox on the Fairway” moves at warp speed and contains endless, unforeseeable plot twists. Deeker plays Justin as a slightly goofy young man; his appearance in a tuxedo and sneakers doing yoga is priceless. Steedle’s Louise is appropriately bubble-headed. Her connection of the golf world to Homer and the “Iliad” reveals the brilliant whimsicality of Ludwig’s imagination.

Like many send-ups of social institutions, Ludwig’s comedy refuses to look at traditional symbols of respectable society — marriage, money, status — with any seriousness. The only thing Ludwig gives credence to is love. And even that he allows with a wink and a not-too-serious nod in this thoroughly enjoyable, buoyant farce.

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