There’s not much I can say about See How They Run without spilling the beans, so you’re just going to have to trust me when I say it’s a hilarious show.
See How They Run was written by British playwright Philip King, who took the title from the nursery rhyme, Three Blind Mice. It will be presented by the Savannah Community Theatre beginning Jan. 25.
The play premiered in London’s West End during World War II. The evening became quite exciting when three “doodle-bugs,” or V-1 flying bombs, exploded nearby.
Surprisingly, the audience enjoyed the show so much they stayed put until the play was over. However, one of the cast members was heard later at the cast party, complaining that all three bombs went off just as he was speaking his funniest lines.
The play was made into a film in 1955, but somehow See How They Run fell into obscurity after that, and many modern-day theatergoers don’t know it. Tom Coleman, director of the Savannah production, hopes to change that.
“I saw this play at the Savannah Little Theatre when I was 18,” Coleman says. “I thought it was one of the funniest things I’d ever seen.
“For the entire end of the first act and all of the second and third acts, the audience laughed so much I couldn’t hear the lines,” he says. “I went back to see it again in the hopes I would hear the lines I missed, but everyone laughed during that one, too.”
Savannah Community Theatre was scheduled to do Shirley Valentine, but postponed it for some lighter fare. “The writing is very clever,” Coleman says. “There’s lots of visual humor. No one’s heard of it, yet everyone has the same reaction -- it’s funny.”
So if you’re wanting Hamlet, stay home. “Let go and plan to see something silly,” Coleman says.
The decision to do See How They Run came during a production of 84 Charing Cross Road. People wrote to Coleman and said how much they enjoyed it, but many thought doing Shirley Valentine next might be a bit much.
“We think we have a really good season of shows,” Coleman says. “I felt the audience had been loyal and gracious to us. We needed a break to do something silly and fun, and this play is suitable for ages 10 to adult.”
Not that putting See How They Run on is easy. “It’s a hard show because it’s a physical show,” Coleman says. “I’ve been blocking it for three weeks. Everyone is ready to get done with the blocking so they can act. “
The blocking, however, is essential. “In order to be funny, it has to be fast-paced,” Coleman says. “Most of the work has been done on speed and pacing.”
Okay, here are a few hints. The play involves romantic misadventure and five men in clerical suits. “The play is about mistaken identity,” Coleman says. “The problem is, no one knows anyone. They’re in and out of doors at the vicarage and hilarity ensues.
“It took a while to explain that the lines sound like they’re from a serious play,” he says. “The deal is you’ve got to understand that no one in the play is as they appear.”
Coleman knew he had a winner after he ordered the script. “Random people in the room were reading the script and laughing,” he says. “It’s nothing but fun theater fluff. Since it’s a farce, there are a lot of twists and turns in the plot.”
Renee DeRossett plays Miss Skillon, a local busybody who puts her nose in other people’s business one too many times. “Oh my God, it’s a funny show,” DeRossett says.
“Miss Skillon is rather uppity. She sees something she shouldn’t see and she gets blown away by it. Let’s just say Miss Skillon has a bad day.
“The characters are wonderful,” DeRossett says. “There’s a lot of physical slapstick humor. I’ve never been in a show where the cast is laughing hysterically as we’re blocking it.”
Anthony Paderewski plays Clive, an American soldier. “I’ll lose about 10 pounds doing this,” he says. “I’m on my knees throughout half the play, getting knocked down.”
See How They Run will be presented Jan. 25 and 26 and Feb. 1, 2, 7, 8 and 9 at 7:30 p.m., Feb. 3 and 10 at 3 p.m. at Savannah Community Theatre, 2160 E. Victory Dr. Tickets $25 for adults, $20 seniors and $15 for students/children for Friday and Saturday performances, $15 Sunday performances and $10 Thursday performances. Call 898-9021 or visit www.SavannahCommunityTheatre.com.