‘Caught in the Net’ is a hilarious farce, coincidentally written 18 years ago (see play) by Ray Cooney, internationally recognised as the Master-of-Farce. This is Cooney’s sequel to ‘Run for your Wife’ possibly the world’s most popular farce. This 2-hour, delightful, ludicrous and absurd play is being presented by the Wanneroo Repertory Inc., at the Limelight Theatre, in Civic Drive, Wanneroo. The curtain goes up at 8.00 on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings until Saturday 12th May. There is one matinée on Sunday 6th may at 2.00 pm. The scene: alternates between two South London areas, a smart flat in Streatham and a country cottage style house in Wimbledon. The set: The scenery was divided into two. One side of the stage was a traditional, ground floor flat, painted in pale blue and cream. The other house had exposed brick walls and a staircase. The essential for farces, six doors – all fitted with locks – ensured total pandemonium. The same furnishings and fixtures are used for both houses. The set was designed by RJ Smolders, and Gordon Park helped him build it. The set’s properties and décor was by Robert Vincent, with Carol Keppler’s most convincing garden artwork being seen outside the window and front doors. A huge amount of work went into this set, but it was deservedly greeted with applause when the curtains opened. RJ and Helen Smolders staged managed the show. Wally Fry’s lighting was evenly spread over the stage, and looked natural. Daniel Toomath had dozens of sound effects – especially the mobile phones – which required split second timing. Very good technical work. 18 years after the ’Run for your wife’ fiasco, taxi driver John Smith is now happily married to his two unsuspecting wives.
In Wimbledon, fifteen-year old Vicki (Jenna McGougan Shaw) is thrilled; she has just received an email from shy, caring, sixteen-year old Gavin (Josh Flaherty), her online pen pal who now wants to meet her. Vicki asks her overworked, feisty Mum, Mary (Fiona Forster) if she can invite Gavin around for tea. Vicki receives the well-known answer, “Ask your Dad!”
Vicki tells her father (Gordon Park) how surfing on the net, she has met this wonderful boy that lives in Wimbledon, and how incredibly his father’s name is exactly the same as his, John Leonard Smith. Her father realises immediately that his daughter by one wife is now trying to strike up a relationship with his son from another marriage.
In John’s other home in Wimbledon, young Gavin is saying “goodbye” to his mother, Barbara (Colleen Hopkins) before he sets off across town to meet Vicki for the first time. John, now faced with utter turmoil, calls upon his insecure Streatham lodger, Stanley (Chris McCafferty) for support. Stanley is already suffering as he tries to organise a seaside holiday with his senile father (Roger Oakes). In fact, John walks away leaving poor Stanley attempting to cope alone.
The style of acting was slightly unusual, as both homes were occupied throughout the play, and the three-seater settee, centre-stage, was often being used by both families (in different houses) at the same time. Some of the audience might have a little problem conquering this unusual approach, but within minutes the whole audience had grasped the principle and the raucous laughs began. The script was intricate, but superbly structured, so was still easy to follow. On a couple of occasions John and Stanley received applause for their challenging dialogue. The Director, Susan Vincent, again showed her vast versatility in yet another genre. Susan has received numerous awards for her musicals and serious dramas, now she reminds us that she is one of WA’s best farce directors. The cast were amazing. Most of us know and admire Gordon Park from previous comedies, but here his sidekick, Chris MCafferty handled his ‘impossible’ situation with complete skill. The two youngsters, Josh Flaherty and Jenna McGougan Shaw were amazing as the pan-faced children, who had no idea what was happening. Fiona Forster was tremendous as the wife at the end of her tether, who contrasted wonderfully with Colleen Hopkins, the placid, health freak across town. Then poor old Dad, Roger Oakes, added to the confusion with his poor interpretation of his surroundings and some uncomfortable gymnastics. Every actor was given – and achieved – VERY different personalities. Well interpreted and acted with exceptional chemistry and teamwork. This is possibly the best of farces, perfectly presented. Most houses are sold out already, so get in quickly for your ticket. 120 minutes of non-stop laughs.