Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: San Diego

Mr. & Mrs. Fitch
Backyard Renaissance Theatre Company
Review by David Dixon | Season Schedule

Also see Bill's review of Life After

Sandy Campbell and Andrew Oswald
Photo by Daren Scott
When a comedy is set in New York City, it's easy to assume that the material will offer a certain type of humor—one that appeals to an urban and somewhat sophisticated audience. Backyard Renaissance Theatre Company's production of Mr. & Mrs. Fitch at the Moxie Theatre is no exception, focusing on the relationship of a long-lasting marriage while simultaneously poking fun at the celebrity gossip culture. Douglas Carter Beane's script adds up to a solid evening of laughter, and Artistic Director Francis Gercke gets both gags and excellent timing from the leads of the show. It also helps that the play has a very amusing premise.

Mr. and Mrs. Fitch (Andrew Oswald and Sandy Campbell) are gossip columnists who are struggling to stay relevant. Making matters worse for Mr. Fitch is that his boss is abusive and doesn't treat him with respect. The couple are also suffering from intimacy problems, and Mr. Fitch doesn't seem interested in being romantically involved with his wife. One evening, a drunk Mrs. Fitch gives her husband the idea to create a young cool celebrity, Jamie Glenn. Their scheme initially succeeds and helps them with their careers, but the couple struggles to maintain the charade.

The funniest parts of Beane's script are those that focus on the big lie invented by the writers, and how they try to think of ways to avoid getting caught. In the process, Beane references everything from musical theatre and television to literature, and even the title is a reference to a Cole Porter song, "Mister and Missus Fitch" (performed very well here by the stars), from the musical Gay Divorce. Although many of these references are hilarious, others can be distracting and random and occasionally fly over the audience's heads. Additionally, the ongoing conflict between Mr. Fitch and his boss is resolved far too neatly.

Fortunately, more than enough of the gags hit to make the play an overall funny experience. Gercke's direction serves to emphasize both Beane's clever dialogue and the interactions between the main duo. His handling of several comical moments, including a scene that uses music from Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street on TJ Fucella's audio, lead to a lot of amusing sequences. The work by his designers, including Tony Cucuzzella's decorative set and the various costumes from Executive Director Jessica John Gercke, enhance and fit with the personalities of the twosome.

Oswald and Campbell have great comic chops and take turns with various setups and punchlines. They are very believable as a real-life couple who share plenty of history together. Intended to be a satirical tale about celebrity news, it's actually the marriage aspect of the plot that has a bigger impact. Mr. Fitch might comically put down his wife in different ways and the spark between them may not be completely intact, but their closeness and devotion are never in any doubt. They deeply love each other, and their loyalty only grows in the narrative.

If theatregoers might not get every single joke from Beane, there's still a lot of humor in Gercke's interpretation that will make them laugh. For a sharp and light East Coast-themed night, spend it with the Fitches.

Mr. & Mrs. Fitch, through April 14, 2019, at Backyard Renaissance Theatre Company, Moxie Theatre, 6663 El Cajon Blvd. Ste. N, San Diego CA. Performances are Sundays through Saturdays. Tickets start at $18.00 and can be purchased online at or by phone at 619-977-0999.