Rollicking Farce Tickles the Funny Bone


The author of It Runs in the Family, Ray Cooney, has been referred to as the British Neil Simon. Cooney also acts, produces, and directs in London’s West End. He is famous for his fast-paced farces filled with plenty of slapstick action like the Playhouse’s season opener, Cooney’s own It Runs in the Family.

Describing the plot of the show, director Robert Lee says, “Dr. David Mortimore is about to deliver the most important speech of his life, but before he can, he will have to fend off an ex-lover, an illegitimate son, a furious boss, and a whole slew of bumbling friends and co-workers. His solution to all his problems is a series of lies that become more and more absurd.”

For the  Underground  Theatre, Lee has directed Imaginarium Mad Science; Some Sneaky Sheep; James and the Giant Peach and Hedwig and the Angry Inch. He notes, “As a director, I am always looking for a new challenge. This will be my first farce, and I couldn’t be more excited about taking on this hilarious script. Comedy must be taken seriously after all!”

“Comedy is all about timing. The trap can be if you let the material and actors float off too far into characterization. It works best if grounded securely and the laughs come from true, honest, and ultimately relatable situations and reactions. None of this is particularly easy for the director or the actor. It is hard work,” Lee says.

It Runs in the Family at the Duluth Playhouse

Things start to spin out of control in ‘It Runs in the Family,’ opening Thursday, September 22 at the Duluth Playhouse.

Lee is excited about the set and costumes for the show. “It is a farce so there are four doors — but also a big window, a toilet, and a clock (the show happens in real time with the clock freezing for intermission). The costumes are modern for the most part, though there is some fun dressing up in period costumes and some cross-dressing for good laughs.”

Lee’s eleven member cast takes on the over the top characters who spend much of the evening running in and out of doors mistaking each other for someone else.  “I have an incredible cast! These people are really funny and great to work with,” he notes.

Events spin wildly out of control in this delirious farce promising Playhouse audiences a chance to let down their hair and laugh uproariously.

Lee adds, “I want audiences to have a hilariously good time. To experience a character struggling and laughing through it all is a great release. I hope people come in and are able to forget all their worries by getting wrapped up in someone else’s.”

Article written by Sheryl Jensen for The Callboard, the Duluth Playhouse bi-monthly newsletter, and appeared in Volume 58, Issue #1.

It Runs in the Family

And just might who this punk be? Find out by seeing the show September 22-October 2 at the Duluth Playhouse!

Get Those Tickets!

What: It Runs in the Family

Where:  The Duluth Playhouse (506 W. Michigan Street)

When:  September 22-October 2, 2016

Show Times:  Thursday-Saturday @ 7:30pm, Sunday @ 2:00pm

Tickets:  Adults – $30, Students – $22, Groups (15+) – $25

Purchase  Online at, or call 218.733.7555