“The Ladies Man” stages Sept. 27 through Oct. 20 at Phoenix Theatre in Edmonds. From left to right: Annie St. John, Tod Harrick and Renee Gilbert. (Eric Lewis)

“The Ladies Man” stages Sept. 27 through Oct. 20 at Phoenix Theatre in Edmonds. From left to right: Annie St. John, Tod Harrick and Renee Gilbert. (Eric Lewis)

Phoenix Theatre’s ‘Ladies Man’ spins a web of lies for laughs

A lying doctor causes a lot of trouble for himself in the French farce, staging Sept. 27 to Oct. 20.

Oh, how one little lie can quickly spiral out of control.

The comedy in “The Ladies Man,” staging Sept. 27 through Oct. 20 at Phoenix Theatre in Edmonds, revolves around just how many ways things can go wrong when you don’t tell the truth.

Trouble arises when a respected French doctor tries to hide his impotence from his wife. He spins a web of lies to save face, but ensnares an attractive woman, a duel-hungry Prussian soldier, his overbearing mother-in-law and other zany characters in the process.

“He’s doing it for very noble and positive reasons, but it’s just hilarious to see the snowball effect,” director Eric Lewis said. “He says one little lie and the next thing you know, all hell is breaking loose.”

What was the lie? Dr. Molineaux, played by Tod Harrick, claims he can’t sleep with his young wife Yvonne (Renee Gilbert) because she snores.

But, of course, that’s not the truth. Molineaux is questioning his own manhood after something Yvonne said now causes him to giggle uncontrollably in bed. He decides to “cure himself” by having an affair with a randy patient, Suzanne (Annie St. John), only to back out at the last minute.

“He’s trying to find some way to express himself as a man, but he realizes in his heart that this is wrong,” Harrick said. “He’s then left with having to clean up the result of his mistake.”

The well-meaning doctor construes story after story to cover his tracks and soon discovers he’s a talented liar. But it’s a slippery slope.

“He’s like all of us in a way in that he’s trying to be a good person, but he loves this feeling he gets of getting away with something,” Harrick said. “It takes hold of him. He can’t stop himself from trying to push that creativity he’s feeding into this deception.”

Meanwhile, his actions rope in a host of other characters: Suzanne’s extremely jealous husband and Prussian officer, Gustav (Jeff Strom); Yvonne’s mother, Madame Aigerville (Melanie Calderwood); a chronic lisper, Bassinet (Asa Sholdez); a valet, Etienne (David Bailey); and a maid, Marie (Hilaryann Marie Erlandson).

Lewis, of Snohomish, has wanted to direct “The Ladies Man” for several years. (He also has directed “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike” and “Ripcord” at Phoenix Theatre. ) Charles Morley’s play from 2007 was loosely adapted from French playwright Georges Feydeau’s 1889 farce, “Tailleur Pour Dames” (Ladies’ Dressmaker).

Morley kept Feydeau’s story mostly intact, while also making it more accessible for a modern audience, Lewis said.

“He was able to make the language more economic and a little more bent to our sensibilities,” he said. “It’s really funny and very much a stylized French farce.”

The play, which runs about two hours long, is intended for ages 13 and older.

Evan Thompson: 425-339-3427, ethompson@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @ByEvanThompson.

If you go

Phoenix Theatre’s “The Ladies Man” is showing Sept. 27 through Oct. 20 at Phoenix Theatre, 9673 Firdale Ave., Edmonds. Show times are 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 2 p.m. on Sundays. General admission is $25, or $20 for students, seniors, military. More at www.tptedmonds.org or by calling 206-533-2000.

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