Philip Wilson is directing the British premiere of Ken Ludwig‘s A Fox on the Fairway. Philip spent two years as a producer for the BBC, and was the Performance Consultant for the film Shakespeare in Love. He won the Regional Theatre Young Director Scheme bursary in 1995, and in 2015 was awarded a David Fraser/Andrea Wonfor Directing for Television Bursary. He is the former Artistic Director at Salisbury Playhouse (2007 – 2011) and his credits include the recent immersive staging of Grimm Tales and acclaimed The Three Lions.
During rehearsals, Philip revealed what first attracted him to the hilarious script and why people should come and see the show.
What did you love most about the script that made you want to direct A Fox on the Fairway?
I have long been a fan of Ken Ludwig‘s work – including Lend Me A Tenor, Crazy For You, Moon Over Buffalo, Baskerville and the like – and I have always loved farces in general: both watching them, and directing them. So when Ken and I met a few years back through mutual friends, I was delighted to learn that he was writing a new farce set in a golf club. And we started to talk about working together to create a British version.
I loved the setting – how it feels so English, and how the idea of a bet that goes wrong gives rise to so many comic opportunities. And also that it is all quite innocent: the humour lies in its witty dialogue, and the comedy arises from some clever situations, as the characters get into various scrapes. Actually, it’s deeply silly, really – and I love that.
What’s been your favourite part about working on this production?
Initial work with Ken – and then in rehearsals with the cast – on anglicising the play has been fascinating: after removing the ‘gees’ and the ‘oh boys’, there has been a careful sifting and rewording of some sections, to ensure that phrases sound British, and that some of the jokes land for an audience over here. The cast have been a total joy to work with, throwing themselves into scenes, without a care for their dignity. The creative team have worked their socks off, too; as has everyone at the Queen’s Theatre. Farces require a great deal of energy and input – and so with everyone’s enthusiasm, it has all been great fun so far!
Do people have to be knowledgeable about golf to be able to find this show funny?
Not at all! You absolutely don’t need to know your birdie from your bogey to enjoy this play. Ken cleverly teaches us all we need to know; so that you can invest in the stakes of this tournament. While golf is, of course, central to the plot, it’s really – as with all farces – about people getting themselves into tricky circumstances, and then striving to get themselves out of them!
Why should people come and see A Fox on the Fairway?
Because it’s great fun. There’s enough grimness in the world – come along for some good old-fashioned escapism: two hours of wit and silliness, performed by a terrific cast.
What’s been your favourite production to direct?
That’s a tricky one: I love all the shows I direct. Recently, I have been lucky enough to work on a new play by a fantastically talented young writer at Park Theatre, an open-air Shakespeare for Storyhouse in Chester, a new play with songs about music hall at Liverpool Playhouse, and a Rattigan at Theatre-by-the-Lake. And now this. Never a dull day!
What show would you love to direct, but have yet to have the opportunity to?
Recently I rewrote the book of an Ivor Novello musical, The Dancing Years, which we workshopped, but has yet to reach a full production. And I’m also working on a number of new plays. Working hard to get all of these on!
A Fox on the Fairway runs at Queens Theatre Hornchurch from 25 Aug – 16 Sep. For more information and tickets click here.