Not Teed Off

by MICHAEL BOWEN & r & & r & & lt;span class= "dropcap " & A & lt;/span & t the Civic (through Nov. 11), Norm Foster's The Foursome presents four middle-aged men sharing a round of golf while discussing their careers, girlfriends, sex, worries, ex-wives, sex, feelings, children, rivalries and sex. With half the cast shooting par and with Dave Rideout and Brad Picard playing even better than that, The Foursome presents some pleasing entertainment. But with its PG-rated humor, flat jokes and frequently predictable character development, it merely sketches male insecurity. At the last theatrical tournament, Foster's comedy of guy-talk missed the cut.

From tee to tee, we follow an entire round played by a small-town family guy, a divorced guy with a trophy wife, a goody-goody sales rep with money troubles, and a sleazebag womanizer full of false bravado.

From the outset, Foster's unwillingness to write an R-rated play derails his dialogue. Because when a guy wonders whether his buddy schtupped that chick last night after the party, he does not politely inquire if his friend "had relations" with her.

The result is that Foster's play offers sanitized male camaraderie funneled toward a heartwarming final hole.

And yet The Foursome does offer lots of laughs and enjoyment. For example, with his beaver grin and awkward golf swing, Jerry Uppinghouse fulfills the type of the small-town family man who's content with life but also willing to play the blunt truth-teller.

Dave Rideout plays the ladies' man as an empty bad boy. Rideout has the smoothest swing of this foursome (just like his character) and the smirk of a too-smooth operator.

Brad Picard delivers little victory dances after hitting nice golf shots, sarcastic jibes followed by quick high-fives, and what-do-I-do-now exasperation over how his life has turned out. Whether sarcastic or desperate for friendship, he's effective.

As the "worry-wart" sales rep, Mike Hynes is always taking precautions -- which, he says, is "better than being caught when misfortune strikes." (But who talks like this? Not guys who started drinking beer at 7 am.)

The potential for one-hole-after-another tedium is mostly avoided: Foster and these actors have tricks up their sleeves, little surprises in nearly every tee box. The second act, when tempers escalate, had a nice air of finally settling down to business -- along with several laugh-out-loud sequences.

Ultimately, however, The Foursome is like a Rotarian's view of how men should behave when they're off on some wholesome retreat. Except that most men aren't Rotarians, and they're not on a retreat.

Most men tried facing life head-on. Then they just decided to get drunk.