Slamming doors, mistaken identities and a Russian spy

“See How They Run” will open on stage at Minot State University’s Summer Theatre tonight and runs nightly through Monday at 8:30 p.m. Tickets go on sale at 7:30 p.m.

The show begins with the struggles of Penelope Toop, who is still learning what it is like to be the vicar’s wife in a small English village. Her outrageous behavior, such as wearing trousers in public, has not made her popular with the congregation. When her old army buddy stops for a visit, she concocts a plan to have a night out with him by having him wear one of her husband’s suits. What follows is a series of mistaken identities when both the Bishop of Lax and a visiting vicar arrive just as a woman tries her first drink of alcohol and an escaped Russian spy is on the loose.

“Many of these farces aren’t very logical,” said director Conrad Davidson. “People arrive unexpectedly for no reason other than pushing the comedy. Even though the show is from the 1940s, it still holds up really well. It keeps the action moving and it all makes sense. It’s really a great play.”

The comedy works because of the collaboration of the actors.

“Some casts need very specific direction, but this group was able to take a little bit and run with it,” Davidson said. “The actors work so well together. It’s been a joy to work with them.”

With the exception of Emily Wirkus, who plays Penelope Toop and comes from the University of North Dakota this summer, the entire cast is made up of former and current MSU students. One, Tom Rakness, has not been on the Summer Theatre stage in more than 30 years.

The cast enjoyed working with Davidson as well. Peg Morris, playing the merry maid Ida, said, “The story is more believable than most farces. It seems like it could actually happen. Which, I think, makes it even funnier.”

“So many farces need to use sex as the basis for the comedy, but this show doesn’t need to do that,” said Daniel Johnson, playing the role of Penelope’s army friend Clive. “It’s funny on its own.”

The story is so engaging that Davidson said, “Working with a farce like this makes me want to write one. Seeing how a well-written comedy comes together is pretty exciting.”

Johnson and Morris added that they loved the show, the troupe and Davidson as well.

For tickets or questions, contact the Summer Theatre box office at 858-3228. Ticket prices are $8 for adults; $7 for seniors and students under 18; $5 for children 12 and under; and $3 for MSU summer students, faculty and staff with current ID. Military Appreciation Night is Friday, where all active duty members and their immediate family will receive $2 off adult prices, $1.50 off students, $1 off children 12 years and under with military ID. Reservations are encouraged.