Four men, three women, one set and a whole lot of laughs.
Many Hats Theatre Company’s newest show, Caught In The Net, is the sequel to the comedy Run For Your Wife where the audience met the resourceful bigamist John Smith. He manages to manage two wives in two separate London suburbs.
“It is a pretty rambunctious comedy,” said director Eleanor Walker. “There is a lot of action, misunderstanding and general confusion.”
It’s about eight kilometres from Wimbledon to Streatham in London’s South End but with wives and kids in each place, at times they seem too close for John’s comfort. Both John’s son Gavin and daughter Vicki spend lots of time surfing the Internet. The kids meet in a chat room and quickly figure out that they both have dads that are taxi drivers, are 43, and are named John Smith. The kids are determined to meet. John, on the other hand, is equally determined that they never meet.
“He enlists me in keeping those two apart and all hell breaks loose, to put it mildly,” said Eric Hanston, who plays Stanley Gardner, the goofy boarder.
Throw in John’s eccentric father and the recipe for the farce is complete.
“My mood swings between senility, awareness and passiveness, so I have been told,” said James Wood, who plays Stanley’s decrepit old father.
Austan Paquette (Gavin), a recent graduate from Penticton Secondary School, is a first-time player for Many Hats Theatre Company.
“It’s a bit different than doing a school play, it’s a bit more like work. I’m not just rehearsing after school now,” said Paquette, who recently played the lead in Jack and the Beanstalk with Pen High Arts Media Entertainment. “My teacher in school had this big personality and now I am working with a group of people that have that same type of thing, so it has been a lot of fun.”
He brought along Grayce Overhill (Vicki), also a graduate this year from Penticton Secondary School. Overhill also was in the PHAME production of Jack and the Beanstalk, as the whimsical fairy godmother who earned a lot of laughs from the audience.
Caught In The Net was written by British playwright Ray Cooney. His biggest success, Run For Your Wife, ran for nine years in London’s West End and is its longest-running comedy. He had 17 of his plays performed there and wrote the original screenplay for the film Identity starring John Cusack.
Many Hats Theatre director, Walker, said she jumped at taking on the role under a few stipulations.
“Oh, I knew exactly who I wanted to be in this. I had it all pictured in my mind the perfect people to play these characters,” said Walker.
Caught In The Net is produced by Norman Lunch and features Many Hats veterans Kathie Hemmingson (Mary Smith, Vicki’s mother) and Rudy Nemechek (John Smith). The production also features a number of newcomers to the Many Hats stage at the Cannery with Sharon Moriarty (Barbara Smith, Austan’s mother) who most recently appeared alongside Nicola Cavendish in Love, Loss, and What I Wore. Wood is also new to Many Hats and brings more than 50 years of performing experience in the UK and Canada.
Many Hats Theatre Company’s production of Caught In The Net runs until July 26. Shows are Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. Tickets are $22 for adults and $19 for students. They are available at the Penticton and Wine Country Visitor Centre or can be reserved by phone at 250-276-2170.