In Whose Wives Are They Anyway?, the fun begins when two executives arrive for a golf weekend and unexpectedly run into their new boss. When the boss comments that “no one who went golfing for a weekend without his wife would ever work for me”, the guys have to produce “wives” on short notice because their real wives are away for the weekend … or so they think! This crazy farce includes many comedic situations with people running in and out of bedrooms, plenty of double entendre, and a heavy dose of sexual innuendo.
In this Farmington Players’ production, I play Wilson, a 60-ish handyman at the Oakfield Golf and Country Club. Wilson is a curmudgeon and a hypochondriac, constantly citing imagined ailments as an excuse to get out of work, and he is never far from the comedic action. In studying for my character, I got to thinking: What is it that makes comedy funny? Is it the material itself, funny actors, or the situation? For example, in Abbott and Costello’s classic comedy routine, “Who’s On First?”, the dialogue is straight-forward and delivered straight-faced. In response to Costello’s barrage of questions, Abbott’s rapid fire answers are mostly one-word, often just “Yes.” The answers are not funny, but the situation (Costello’s growing exasperation) is. The audience shares in the joke, but neither character is trying to be funny.
To gain insight into what makes a good farce, I interviewed Michael Parker, the author of Whose Wives. Mr. Parker said, “Our philosophy of farce is that if you put unreal characters in unreal situations, the result is trite and silly. The characters must therefore remain very real and the actors must never be allowed to go over the top. The minute anyone starts trying to be funny, the play is dead in the water. So no comedians, just good actors. … I urge everyone again to keep the characters real, and do not become caricatures.”
Just as with Abbott and Costello, timing is everything in comedy. In Whose Wives, there are times when several people are all talking at once on the telephone. Mr. Parker suggests that “The telephone sequences must be fast and slick. Practice, practice, practice. If someone screws up, there is no way to recover. If done correctly, it will bring the house down.” To find out whether we can pull it off, come check in at the Oakfield Golf and Country Club and check it out for yourself.
Whose Wives Are They Anyway? opens Friday February 17 and runs through Saturday March 3. For tickets, go to www.farmingtonplayers.org or call the box office at 248-553-2955. Find us on Facebook under "Farmington Players".