If you need a good belly laugh (and who doesn’t) The Avon Players Community Theatre has just the ticket. The delightfully scripted, wonderfully produced bedroom comedy by John Chapman and Ray Cooney, “Move Over Mrs. Markham,” opened this weekend and continues to run through March 23.
There’s no easy way to describe the plot to this fast-paced laugh fest except to say that everybody in it mistakenly expects the worst of somebody else. Not that everyone’s innocent.
Philip Markham is a straight-laced publisher of children’s books who takes pride in his fidelity to his attractive wife of 15 years, Joanna. But when the Markhams prepare to go out for the evening, three other couples make secret plans to use their flat for an illicit rendezvous. First is Phillip’s senior partner Henry, who is meeting a woman he seduced over the phone but hasn’t actually met. Second is Henry’s wife, who wants to turn the tables on her unfaithful husband. And third is the Markham’s interior designer, who has designs on their lovely young au pair, who has the night off.
As letters, phone calls and incriminating undergarments are intercepted by all the wrong people, Philip begins to suspect his faithful wife. And when he accuses her, she’s ready to make good on his accusations, just to teach him a lesson.
This comedy is constructed like a Swiss watch, with clever banter and outrageous double entendres that depend on perfect timing. But the physicality of the show is more like a crazed cuckoo clock, with people popping in and out of bed, the bar and the bathroom with each sweep of the second hand.
Directed by Mike Olsem, the Avon Players’ cast really puts the old one-two combination into the punchlines, with a well-timed left hook now and then to keep the audience guessing. It’s a terrific ensemble performance from a cast that features Mary Arvidson, Lesa Bydalek, Paul Held, Kim Monterosso, Joe Munem, Tracy Murray, Joy Oetjens, Emily Polet and Jeff Stillman.
“Move Over Mrs. Markham” runs weekends through March 23 at the Avon Players Theatre, located at 1185 Washington Road, in Rochester. Performances on Fridays and Saturdays are at 8 p.m. and on Sundays at 2 p.m. Ticket prices range from $13 to $15 and can be purchased at the box office, by phone at (248) 608-9077, or online. This production is tastefully executed with no explicitly off-color language, but its risqué themes are recommended for adults only.