Reviewed by Helen Bas
Just a small warning if you decide to attend Clio Cast & Crew’s presentation of Caught in the Net: Your face muscles are going to ache a bit from laughing.
The play, by Ray Cooney, is a sequel to his earlier Run for Your Wife, but don’t let that throw you. Caught is standalone and hilariously funny.
John Smith, played by Pat Blondin, is a cab driver in England who has a wife and son in Streatham. And a wife and daughter in Wimbledon. You begin to get the idea. When his son, Gavin (Cameron Tash) and daughter, Vicki (Pamela Beauchamp) connect on the Internet and plan to meet, sheer panic ensues.
Vicki’s mom, Mary, is played by Blondin’s (only) real-life wife, Cheryl Blondin. Cheryl and Gavin’s mom, Barbara (Suzanne Helfrich) are all for the teens’ meeting. Their “dads,” of course, are (is) having a fit.
John enlists his friend and longtime boarder, Stanley (William Kircher) to help him out of the mess. Stanley is dimwitted, but picks up the thread pretty well. He’s determined to take his father (Bob McTaggart) on vacation, but John insists he stay and help.
At first, it’s just a tiny bit confusing since the one set consists of the living rooms of both of the Smith homes. Quite often, both families are interacting at the same time on stage, conversations mingling. It’s surprisingly easy to get used to, though, and the sometimes parallel topics provide some of the ample laughs.
There is plenty of physical comedy, too, as John attempts to avoid being discovered as the bigamist he is. Working together, he and Stanley manage to keep John’s face from the teens and wives despite numerous encounters.
The young people hold the plot together, refusing to allow their stubborn dad(s) to keep them apart. Vicki is a delight with her typical, obnoxious teenage behavior. Gavin stubbornly refuses to take no for an answer, frustrating John and Stanley to no end.
As if all that were not enough, Stanley’s father appears partway through, insisting on his vacation. His part is sheer comic relief, adding a new dimension to the already hilarious action.
It’s suggested by Clio Cast & Crew that children not be brought to this production, since there are a number of double entendres and outright mild sexual references. It’s not offensive, just funny, but it’s really not for kids. There also is a glossary, since many British terms are used and their meanings are sometimes vastly different than what we might expect.
So the kids keep insisting on getting together, with Dad and Stanley making up more and more outrageous excuses to keep them apart. The wives run around trying to figure out all the odd behavior. Meanwhile, Stanley is nearly having a heart attack even as his dad cavorts like the daft old man we suspect he is.
This is a supremely funny play, guaranteed to keep you laughing throughout. Director Dale Radford has done a superb job of handling all the overlapping action and conversations. Oh, and if you’re interested in how it all turns out, you’ll have to go see it.
Caught in the Net continues at Theatre 57, 2220 W. Vienna Rd., Clio, Oct. 28 and 29 at 7:30 p.m., and Oct. 30 at 2p.m. Tickets are $12 (there is no children’s price since the play is not intended for children). For more information, call Clio Cast & Crew at 810-687-2588.