See How They Run: A Classic, Chaotic Comedy of Mixed Identity
The pants-wearing wife of an English bishop who accidentally decorated the pulpit with turnips and leeks, a staunch parishioner who unknowingly gets into the cooking sherry, an American actor-turned-soldier ready for a night off, a maid who’s seen too many American movies (and a lot of other goings-on), and between one and four clergymen (most in varying stages of undress) combine to tell this story that will both actors and audience members as if they’d run a footrace. The result? Humor not easily forgettable! Eric Rasmussen, who plays the Reverend Humphreys, commented, “Even at the first read-through of the script, I was falling out of my chair laughing.”
Both originating and set in 1943, an early production of See How They Run toured as entertainment for the British troops fighting in WWII; part of the charm of this script is its humorous approach amidst difficult situations. During the war, although British television service could not continue during to financial and security reasons, the BBC prioritized the continuation of radio variety programs, emphasizing the importance of comedy and entertainment to maintain morale. See How They Run honestly portrayed the culture of the time without removing people from their struggles, but by setting up a related situation so hilarious audience members could not help but laugh. Similarly, farcical shows such as this, with characters who completely believe in themselves (even with a play of mistaken identities!) are the perfect way for us to appreciate the lighthearted potential within complicated situations and crazy lives.
With tax season, summer vacation and reunion planning, and the end of school or university years, we all, like those WWII soldiers, could use a few hours just to laugh. Director Rebecca Baker commented conceptually, “At the deeper level, this farce reveals the humorous effect of defining identity by roles… it seems, however, that the key word is humorous! In a spirit of fun, the playwright encourages us to laugh.” The actors in the nine-member cast have enjoyed perfecting comedic timing and playing with different approaches to humor in performance.
I’m serving as the Dramaturg (for those who haven’t worked with dramaturgs before, I do all the historical and thematic research for the production, and provide a link between the script on all levels and the actors/production/audience) for this production, and will be doing an open talkback on Saturday, April 9, following the matinee performance. I’ve enjoyed researching the context and themes, including how humor affected those during WWII and those living now; audience members are sure to enjoy the show even more.
An important facet of See How They Run is that characters do not shy away from the difficulties within their or others’ lives, but find ways (often humorous!) to get through. To fit the global context of the show and help those in need, we will be accepting donations to the campus relief fund to assist those affected by the recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Theatre guests choosing to contribute may do so during intermission.
From mistaken identities to runaway spies to one soldier’s instruction to “Arrest most of these bishops!” along with the opportunity to find humor amidst difficulty and help others, See How They Run will keep you laughing during the entire show. So, this or next weekend, take a break from your numerous stressors and responsibilities to see a show that thankfully reminds us how hilarious life can be.
Dates: April 7 – 9 and 14 – 15 & 17, with evening performances at 8:00 pm, a Saturday matinee at 2:00, and a Sunday matinee at 3:00.
Dramaturgy Talkback on Saturday, April 9, at approximately 4:30 pm.
More information: Cedarville University Production Season
Tickets: Available online or at the door. Cedarville University Box Office