Theatre Mirror Reviews-"Sly Fox"

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entire contents copyright 2014 by Tony Annicone

"Sly Fox"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

Community Players second production of their 94th season is "Sly Fox", an updating of the satirical farce "Volpone" by Ben Johnson. "Sly Fox" is Larry Gelbart's hilarious comedy about greed, lust and the art of the con. Foxwell J. Sly is a scheming miser bent on extracting fortunes from a trio of rich, greedy opportunists. Sly pretending to be on his deathbed, says he will name each of the three as his sole heir. The extent the trio will go to acquire Sly's fortune knows no bounds. Abner Truckle offers Sly, his wife while Crouch offers to disown his son in order to obtain the inheritance of Sly. He also fools lawyer Craven into doing his bidding with promises of gold. Sly is aided and abetted by his conniving servant, Simon Able, in grabbing the other men's gold. This show is by the author of "MASH", "Tootsie" and "Oh, God!". Director Erika Koch casts these 14 roles splendidly and elicits terrific performances from her topnotch cast, winning them much laughter and a thunderous ovation for all their hard work.

Erika's direction always brings out the best in her cast and this show is no exception to that rule. Her keen insight into these characters is splendid to behold. Erika gives her cast many sight gags and clever shtick to perform. The beautiful turntable set is by Brian Mulvey and the lovely costumes are by Pam Jackson. Rich Koster shines as the conman who bilks these gullible marks. He wind many laughs at his crazy antics and his double entendres are hilarious. His scene with Mrs. Truckle is slapstick at its best with his head up her skirt after being knocked out by her opening a closet door. Geoff White is terrific as Able, his assistant who once was a gambler that Sly rescued from destitution. His deceptive behavior as he brings each of the victims in to see his master is excellently done. Geoff's funniest line is "Coming and going at the same time''. The many comic twists and turns of the show astound the audience and Geoff is a marvel almost being onstage for the whole show.

The supporting cast garners many laughs, too. Craven, the sleazy lawyer is wonderfully played by Eric Barbato. He keeps checking on Sly to make sure he is mentioned in his will and defends Sly at the trial in the second act. Crouch, an ancient and crooked miser is beautifully played by Brian Mulvey. His scene with Miss Fancy is hilarious as he takes her necklace out of her bosoms. Crouch also buried his wife forty years ago in a fruit box. Brian's funniest line is when he says "I shit myself" at the reading of the will. His naval officer son is marvelously played by Ronald H. Martin who towers over everyone. Accusing Sly and Able of criminal behavior and having the judge throw the book at him literally. His stand up behavior is a pleasant contrast to the duplicitous behavior of the other characters.

Abner Truckle, a covetous acquaintance of Sly who is also his accountant is well played by Tom DiMaggio. He eventually pimps his prayerful wife to obtain Sly's fortune. His funniest line is "I don't want my wife on everyone's tongue". Gorgeous blonde, Jill Pinto Gould plays his pious and beautiful wife, Simplicity. She conveys the naivete of the character perfectly. One of her funniest lines is "I'm not allowed near windows" and her shocked reaction when the chief of police rips open his shirt in the courtroom is priceless. Marilyn Busch is hilarious as the hot to trot, Miss Fancy. She uses a Southern accent and sells her many double entendres perfectly. Michael Maio is splendid as the police chief. His first entrance is gangbusters as he shows up to arrest Sly for molesting Simplicity. However when he becomes enthralled with Simplicity's bosoms in the courtroom and rips open his shirt wins the biggest laughter of the show. The judge is well played by Bob Goodwin. His antics in the courtroom have to been seen to be believed. I can't reveal too much of what happens in the second act as it will spoil things for the audience. Just when you think you have things figured out, you'll find you don't. I have fond memories of this show, having seen it on Broadway with Robert Preston in 1977 and having played Abner Truckle for Academy Players in November, 1983. So for a fun filled farce that will have you rolling in the aisles with merriment, be sure to catch "Sly Fox" at Community Players.

"Sly Fox" (9 - 18 January)
@ Jenks Auditorium, Division Street, PAWTUCKEY RI

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide