WOS Rating: Reader Reviews: View and add to our user reviews The original 1966 West End production of Roger Milner's How's The World Treating You? was a huge success and transferred to Broadway. So this production by Silver Thread has big shoes to fill. Do they fit? Not quite, though it's a grand attempt.
Over three acts, spanning three decades, Frank More (Matthew Carter) is the "you" of the title, as he blunders haplessly from an army transit camp post-War, to marrying into an upper-class family and finally suffering his downfall in 1966 after years of selling washing machines. All his life he wanted to become Headmaster of Eton, but war and life got in the way of his promise to his mother. Everyone he meets is bonkers, ignoring his lack of trousers or talking to imaginary dogs called Maureen. There's a nod to a moral about personal responsibility, but it's glossed over to focus on the humour.
Projected historical Pathe News segments and music neatly set the scene before each act (although The Hollies' "Air That I Breathe" is actually from 1974, not 1966 when Act 3 takes place).
“ Stephen Glover's direction is nimble, but doesn't go far enough in developing the madness ”
The play has all the ingredients to work as a surreal comedy but needs to be played extremely broadly, with a knowing disregard for the blatant silliness of the plot.
Stephen Glover's direction is nimble, but doesn't go far enough in developing the madness. The first act falls flat, despite some visually funny moments when Frank lose both his troop and his trousers. The "nudge nudge wink wink" ogling of the pretty Corporal doesn't work either, with the cast looking embarrassed to be playing such an anchronism and watering it down.
Act 2 suffers from the plot hinging on 16-year-old Diedre being seven months' pregnant by Frank, her history teacher, 20 years her senior. In the 1960s, this might have seemed funny in an "Ooo-er missus" way. Fifty years later, and even though Frank "makes an honest woman" of Diedre, it turns him into a deeply unsympathetic figure.
In Act 3 though, the daftness really takes wing, and finally develops the level of surreal joy captured by the Goons and Monty Python. This is almost entirely due to the appearance of Mrs Scace (known as Rover), played with total conviction and gusto by Gillian Cally. She gloriously shakes every last bit of comedy out of the role, with the rest of the talented cast stepping up the pace.
How's The World Treating You? is an enjoyably daft romp and Silver Thread are to be commended for resuscitating it. Pump a bit more oomph into the first two acts and this would be a real comedy gem.
- Carole Gordon