Today's audiences are more sophisticated, though, and while no longer being afforded the courtesy of light refreshments in their seats, are apparently still being served up the same time-warped theatrical entertainment. Yes, the show is vaguely amusing, in a sort of lace curtain sit-com sort of way, and it sports two B-list, former TV stars in Paul Nicholas and Ian Ogilvy, but surely they stopped writing this sort of play when (as Noel Coward would have it), my grandmother fell off the high wire?
Author Eric Chappell was once king of television comedy with Rising Damp, Duty Free and others. Rising Damp is still a classic of its type with class-divide plots and strong characterisation. This latest offering, however, is replete with one-dimensional caricatures and a plot involving mistaken luggage that is more or less unravellable by the end. The farce is, nevertheless played fast, under Jeremy Meadow's sure direction, and doesn't outstay its welcome.
The plot concerns a cash-poor couple (Nicholas and Judy Buxton) who sneak a holiday at Buxton's boss's Spanish holiday villa. Unfortunately, the villa appears to have been double booked for no sooner are they through the door than in trounces Ogilvy and his squeaky girlfriend (newcomer, Rachel Rhodes, excellent). Ogilvy plays a TV has-been who still fancies himself. The two couples appear to have mistakenly picked up each other's holdalls at the airport, but then discover three-way confusion with an identical case containing a 1/2 million pounds in used notes. This may or may not belong to a gangster called 'Mad' Moon (Peter G Reed, giving the most amusing and barmiest performance of the evening) and a man called Raynor who may or may not be a policeman. There ensues endless opportunities for mistaken identity, switching of bags and the like.
This is all played out in front of one of those ageless touring sets that flashes up "all expense spared". Nevertheless, the cast take it at a canter, run around a lot and provide some amusing moments. The one-liners are classic television comedy, not a cliché left unearthed, and the audience seems to enjoy the dubious pleasure of recognition. Nicholas plays, well, Nicholas. Likewise Ogilvy.
- Stephen Gilchrist (reviewed at Richmond Theatre)