Photo provided by Ohio College of Fine Arts
Infidelity, the theme of popular television shows such as Scandal, The Good Wife and Mistresses, lends itself as the backbone of story lines to draw in audiences seeking steamy and rebellious entertainment. The “cheating husband that wants to have his cake and eat it too” is a familiar character today. Usually, the plot is dramatic and full of serious and emotional dialogue, but in the Ohio Theater’s production of The Ladies Man, the trendy theme of adultery is approached in a refreshingly new way: with sexy (and sometimes crude) humor. The Ladies Man tells the story of a suspected cheating husband, sparking an investigation full of door slamming, triggered dancing and a copious amount of sexual innuendos all webbed together with extravagant lies while providing the audience with laughs throughout.
Upon entering the Elizabeth Evans Baker Theater in Kantner Hall, French classical music fills the room while the stage, equipped with a couple of chairs on either side of a small table in the center, is bright with romantic details. The setting is such that it aids the imagination of the audience in seeing a second-floor parlor in early 20th Century Paris. The show begins with employees of the parlor’s residents discussing the whereabouts of Dr. Molineaux (Brian Epperson), around whom, the questions of morality are quickly centered and lend to the narrative of the story.
Dr. Molineaux’s wife (Bradley McKelvey-Askin) awakes and begins asking for her husband, but she quickly discovers he did not sleep in his study, where he has been sleeping separate from his wife for weeks. As soon as she has lost hope and concludes that he must be cheating and leaves the room, the doctor calls for his valet to help him in while hanging from the window. He tells Etienne (Blake Dava), his valet, that he had slept on a park bench in the rain after going to the Moulin Rouge, a Parisian night club with exotic acts, the night before. Just the words Moulin Rouge trigger several characters to spontaneously begin dancing while the lights go dark and purple to intensify the connotation of the name throughout the entire play.
Despite attempts at lying and giving several excuses and explanations for the strange events that transpire that day, Dr. Molineaux finds himself in a mess he created that, the audience finds out early on, is all caused by his recent history of embarrassment while in bed with his wife.
The doctor’s search for his “inner tiger,” creates a fast-paced story and a satisfying amount of situational humor. The search for the truth eventually leads to a significant scene, and the play’s best executed, in an old dress-maker’s shop that is sure to cause tears from laughter in the eyes of audience members.
The duration of the play clocks in at about an hour and a half, and a 15-minute intermission allows for a bathroom break and a set change. While the play struggles a bit to regain it’s speed in the second half, it recovers its comedic rhythm just in time to wake up the audience with howling laughter.
That funny approach at a typically sensitive topic creates an environment full of comedic gold and a mysterious ending. The audience is in store for exciting twists and turns with guaranteed laughter around every corner throughout the play’s production.
The Ladies Man will be showing Oct. 26-29 & Nov. 2-5 at 8 p.m. in Elizabeth Evans Baker Theater. Tickets are free for Ohio University students, $10 for general admission and $7 for seniors and students.