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Run for Your Wife (play)

Run for Your Wife (1983) is an adult comedy play by Ray Cooney.

Run for Your Wife
Written byRay Cooney
CharactersJohn Smith
Date premiered29 March 1983
Original languageEnglish language
GenreAdult comedy



The story concerns bigamist John Smith, a London cab driver with two wives, two lives and a very precisely planned schedule for juggling them both, with one wife at a home in Streatham and another nearby at a home in Wimbledon.

Trouble brews when Smith is mugged and ends up in hospital, where both of his addresses surface, causing both the Streatham and Wimbledon police to investigate the case. Having upset his careful schedule, Smith becomes hopelessly entangled in his attempts to explain himself to his two wives and two suspicious police officers, with help from his lazy layabout neighbour upstairs in Wimbledon.


Cast members have a precise schedule as well with many entrances and exits that create pressure and humor through this adult comedy.


Richard Briers and Bernard Cribbins took the lead roles in the original West End theatre production.[1] It had a highly successful nine-year run in various theatres: Shaftesbury Theatre (March to December 1983), Criterion Theatre (December 1983 to March 1989), Whitehall Theatre (March 1989 to May 1990), Aldwych Theatre (May to September 1990) and Duchess Theatre (September 1990 to December 1991).[2]

New York CityEdit

Run for Your Wife opened on Broadway at the Virginia Theatre on March 7, 1989, directed by and starring Ray Cooney himself as taxi driver John Smith, and featuring Kay Walbye as his Wimbledon wife, Hilary Labow as his Streatham wife, Gareth Hunt and Dennis Ramsden as the police sergeants, and Paxton Whitehead as Smith's friend and accomplice. The New York Times theater critic Mel Gussow called the play "burdened with blind alleys, limp jokes, forced puns and troubled entendres," the acting "as ordinary as John Smith is supposed to be" and the staging "mechanical, as characters watch one another watching."[3] The production closed on April 9 after 14 previews and 52 regular performances.[4]


The South Korean production of Run for Your Wife, under the title Liar, has had an open run in Seoul since 1998, and is considered one of the most successful performances in Korean theater history. Its sequel, Caught in the Net, also has had an open run in Seoul since 2004, under the title Liar 2.


On 26 and 27 November, 2016, the play was directed by Faiz Rasool from Independent Theatre Pakistan at Ali Auditorium, Lahore, Pakistan.[5]


A film adaptation of Run for Your Wife, co-directed by Ray Cooney and John Luton, was released on 14 February 2013, with both Briers and Cribbins appearing in cameo roles.[6] Upon release the film was savaged by critics and has been referred to as one of the worst films of all time, after it grossed just £602 in its opening weekend at the British box office to its £900,000 budget.[7][8]


  1. ^ "Run For Your Wife". This is Theatre. Retrieved 2008-04-05.
  2. ^ Albemarle Archive - Caught in the Net
  3. ^ Gussow, Mel. "A Farce in the British Tradition of the 1950's." The New York Times, March 8, 1989.
  4. ^ "Run for Your Wife Closes." The New York Times, April 13, 1989.
  5. ^ "Independent Theatre Pakistan's second play 'Run For Your WIFE': Remarkably successful!". Daily Pakistan. Retrieved 2016-11-29.
  6. ^ "Run For Your Wife (12A) | Close-Up FIlm DVD Review | Welcome to Close-Up Film | Film Reviews, Film News, Film Interviews". Archived from the original on 2013-12-13. Retrieved 2014-08-10.
  7. ^ Danny Dyer's Run For Your Wife takes just £602 at the box office Radio Times, 20 February 2013. Retrieved 1 February 2014.
  8. ^ "Danny Dyer's 'Run For Your Wife' flops with £747 at the box office". Digital Spy. Retrieved 20 February 2013.

External linksEdit