Alex Guzman and Leigh Ellen Akin in "Move Over, Mrs. Markham." Photo by Ken Jacques
What’s the opposite of a morality play?
“Move Over, Mrs. Markham.” But it’s all in fun. The 50-year-old farce by Ray Cooney and John Chapman is chock full – make that beyond chock full – of never-quite-consummated sexual indiscretions. No wonder that the round-shaped bed is the most prominent set piece in this wacky comedy of innuendo and on-the-fly impersonations.
Scripps Ranch Theatre’s production of “Move Over, Mrs. Markham” directed by Francis Gercke is breathlessly paced (especially in Act 2) and, to the credit of Gercke and his cast, the actors avoid soaring over the top even when the convoluted script itself does.
Joanna Markham, charmingly portrayed by Leigh Ellen Akin, and her husband Philip (Alex Guzman, in top comedic form), find their unexciting evening and unexciting marriage fueled for fire when each assents to accommodating a married friend (portrayed by Kate Rose Reynolds and John DeCarlo, respectively) who desires to use their London flat for a tryst while the Markhams are out for the night. Naturally the philandering friends are married to each other. As if this weren’t crazily complicated enough, the Markhams’ ever-present interior decorator (Adam Daniel) is planning to use the same flat for his own tryst later with the housekeeper (Colette Culbertson). The jumping to conclusions and misunderstandings and near-misses in the bedroom that ensue are far too many to recount here, lest the plot be spoiled. Suffice to say this is an evening that the staid Markhams will not soon forget.
Akin and Guzman are the standouts among the ensemble and also the two members of the cast most comfortable in and believable assaying British accents. The true feat of this Scripps Ranch production is the seamless coming and going of the players on the theater’s small stage. Timing, as you know, is everything. Especially in comedy.
“Move Over, Mrs. Markham” runs through June 30.
David L. Coddon is a Southern California theater critic.