Screwball comedy takes the stage at David Douglas High

NOW PLAYING: See how a British vicar’s home is turned upside down by four mistaken identities, two impostors, an escaped spy in this hilarious, fast-moving play ‚Ķ

As the story begins … Penelope Toop (Desira?© Stewart), the American wife of the local vicar is disappointed that her visiting ex-show biz pal, Corporal Clive Winton (Chris McVey) won’t take her to see a show in town. Winton relents, borrows the vicar’s suit, and is mistaken for the Reverend.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
The opening night audience laughed out loud, hearing the snappy dialog, seeing the madcap action and reveling in the mash-up of confusion of the David Douglas High School production of See How They Run.

It’s a World War II era play by Philip King, considered by many to be the “King of Farces” because of the screwball situations and humor, heavily playing on problems arising from mistaken identities.

The maid, Ida (Emily Strickland) tries to explain to her boss, The Reverend Lionel Troop (Jonathan Quesenberry) why the town busybody, Miss Skilton (Katy Beckemeyer) is found inebriated, out of control, and in the most embarrassing of situations – on the floor!

The line, “See how they run”, originally drawn from the nursery rhyme about the “three blind mice” is best known in popular culture today from The Beatles’ use of it in two of their songs, “I am the Walrus” and “Lady Madonna”.

But perhaps Paul McCartney and John Lennon used this phrase in the songs not because of the children’s rhyme, but because they enjoyed the comedic confusion that reigns in this play.

The real Reverend Troop gets clocked by an escaped prisoner (Joey Russell) who needs a quick change of clothes. Thus, two vicar-imposters are now in the house.

Star-studded, experience cast
You’ll recognize many of the actors in this production. Most of them have played many staring roles in other David Douglas Theater products.

Some of the featured players in this show are Katy Beckemeyer played the lead role in Peter Pan; Chris McVey was “Big Jule” in Guys and Dolls; Jonathan Quesenberry was “Captain Hook” in Peter Pan; Desira?© Stewart played a knockout “Adelaide” in Guys and Dolls and “Wendy” in Peter Pan; and, Emily Strickland, a veteran of nine DDHS productions, and will be competing in the State drama competitions.

The Bishop of Lax (Rachel Lemons), shows up a day early, complicating matters for Penelope, to the delight of maid Ida.

Solid direction produces snappy scenes
Directed by Michael Givler, with the support of  Judy LeCoq and Kaila Murry, the actors deliver their lines crisply, with the “snap” necessary to make a fast-paced comedy pick up speed until the frenzied ending.

The more questions the Bishop of Lax asks of Penelope, the more confusing the situation becomes. Corporal Winton laughs hysterically, both because he’s been mistaken for Reverend Troop ‚Äì and because his military uniform has disappeared.

Sophisticated staging
The show’s Technical Director, Mark L. Taylor and his student staff built the realistic set ‚Äì complete with five doors, all well used ‚Äì out and away from the stage front, bringing the action up close to the audience.

The crew’s execution of Lighting Designer David Tangen’s superb illumination design highlights the screwball antics of the characters as they scurry about, trying desperately to right multiple situations that have gone awry.

As the situation continues to worsen, and the pace of the play quickens, Penelope is frenzied as Corporal Winton squares off with the (literally) defrocked Reverend Troop. The action continues to build from here – these scenes are from the FIRST half of the show!

Order tickets today
See How They Run continues its run on March 15, 16, and 17.

Showtimes for all performances are at 7:30 p.m. in the beautiful Howard Horner Performing Arts Center, 1400 SE 130th Ave., Portland, OR 97233.

Tickets are $5 for students and $7 for adults.

For ticket information, call the David Douglas Box Office at (503) 261-8270.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

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