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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Review: Move out of way of ‘Mrs. Markham’


    Courtesy of Live Theatre Workshop

    (Top row) Janet Roby, Cliff Madison, Allison Akmajian, and India Osborne. (Bottom row) Christopher Younggren, Matthew Copley, Michael Woodson and Shanna Brock in “Move Over Mrs. Markham” at Live Theatre Workshop. The play is a subpar sexual farce.

    It’s brash, it’s bold — and it’s bound to exhaust you if you aren’t primed for the hyperactive farce that publicly boasts a production with over 250 stage entrances and exits.

    “Move Over Mrs. Markham,” based on the 1969 production written by Raymond George Alfred Cooney and John Chapman, is directed by Live Theatre Workshop’s Stephen Frankenfield.

    London’s swinging ’60s are in full gear in Mrs. Markham’s (Shanna Brock) flat as she returns home from an afternoon of shopping, never suspecting the chaos about to ensue.

    The geometric patterns on the wall are the work of interior designer Alistair Spenlow — the proud installer of the Markhams’ new floral bidet. Attired in a paisley ascot, a deep purple and blue shimmering suit jacket, and blue suede boots, Spenlow may or may not be pretending to be gay in order to avoid exposing his relationship with the Markhams’ maid.

    Naturally, the breathy European maid Sylvie Hauser (Allison Akmajian) lollygags around the apartment in her highly inappropriate and impractical French maid getup; this is a farce, after all. Sylvie plans an evening with Spenlow in the Markhams’ apartment while they are away. This is just the first of many a sexual rendezvous planned for the evening in the Markham home, none of which includes the Markhams.

    Joanna Markham is the go-go boot-wearing, lustrous, flowing, blonde supermodel-type with a husband of 15 years, whose affection hasn’t been had in quite some time. Her best friend, Linda Lodge (Janet Roby), is the wife of Mr. Markham’s boss, and she is at her wit’s end dealing with her adulterous husband.

    Linda knows her husband has been having nonstop trysts with other women, and she is determined to seek lovin’ on the side as well. Divulging a love letter from her paramour, Linda is given reluctant permission to arrange her own tryst in the Markhams’ apartment.

    As expected, Mr. Markham (Matthew C. Copley) and Mr. Lodge (Christopher Younggren) find a page of Linda’s love letter in the couch, and the spiral begins as Mr. Markham believes the letter was sent to his wife. Described as a “stick in the mud,” his proper business manner disintegrates as his anxiety goes from zero to 60 in under a minute.

    Copley certainly obtained his daily cardio workout during his performance as Mr. Markham. Running about on the small stage, contorting his body and sweating buckets as his beet-red face hardly contained his overflowing hysteria, it was a wonder he didn’t experience a heart attack. His energy never waned, and, impressively, his English accent was maintained while he screamed through gritted teeth.

    In contrast, playboy Mr. Lodge is cool and collected. He knows the life of infidelity well and isn’t easily ruffled. His steady eyes are a reminder of his blasé attitude toward monogamy as he prepares for his own night’s liaison.

    Accusations and misunderstandings fly between characters, resulting in Mr. Markham declaring his belief that Spenlow and his wife are lovers. Mr. Markham hands his wife over to the perplexed interior designer and becomes determined to find his own lover.

    Due to the show’s hectic pacing, Mrs. Markham isn’t given time to figure out the situation; instead, she is game for a romp with Spenlow. Forgetting Sylvie, Spenlow drops his drawers as he dances in his chili pepper boxers.

    The remainder of the show involves switching identities, changing accents, and preventing disclosures while half-dressed.

    Adding absolutely nothing new to sexual farces, “Move Over Mrs. Markham” should rest at the bottom of the farce barrel, letting ones with thicker plots rise to the top for future revival.

    “Move Over Mrs. Markham” will run at Live Theatre Workshop until March 28.


    Follow Anna Mae Ludlum on Twitter.

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