Story by Greg Holden, photos by Matthew Goertz
The Cambrian Players’ adaptation of The Ladies Man is a farcical funhouse of double entendre, mistaken identities and multiple doors. Directed by Lawrence Badanai, this production of Charles Morey’s play is a little more measured than others and may therefore prove more palatabe to a wider audience not used to the over-the-top force of European farce or pantomime. However, the laughs are still very much free-rolling and deserved.
The Ladies Man tells the tale of a French doctor in early 1900s Paris who, in attempting not to offend his wife, tells a little white lie that leads to bigger white lies, and even bigger misunderstandings, until he is completely stuck in the middle of an intricate and hilarious web of marital misadventure. Further complicating matters is a mysterious maid, a lecherous butler, a patient with a lisp, another overly amorous patient and her Prussian husband, and a truly fearful mother-in-law. It all plays out to a happy conclusion but not before we have more entrances and exits than a rabbit’s warren in springtime.
Gabe Ferrazzo does well as the mother-in-law that every son-in-law dreads and is supported wryly by John Welyki , who seems to have a lot of fun as the Prussian husband bamboozled at every turn by “zees inzane French people” and their machinations. But the star of the show is undoubtedly Spencer Hari who plays his part as a lisp-burdened patient with just enough surprise and camp to illicit some genuinely great laughs.
Set Designer Donna Goodman maximizes and enhances the farcical humour in an already intimate setting, with a set that is mostly all doors and not much floor, thus helping to exaggerate the actors’ movements on stage and highlight their increasing flurry of comings and goings as the play reaches its comical climax.
With a hilariously original star turn during the final set change that is worth the price of admission alone, this is a great night out. If laughter truly is the best medicine, then this tale of lisps and lusts and little white lies may be just what the doctor ordered.
The Ladies Man is waiting to charm you with more than a knowing wink and a smile. The show runs through to Saturday, March 1 at 8 pm at the Paramount Theatre. Tickets are $20 for adults and $15 for students/seniors and available at Calico, Fireweed, Steepers and at the door.