In Ray Cooney’s up-to-date sequel to the very popular Run for your Wife, bigamist taxi driver John Leonard Smith – a frenetic, but very energetic Jeffrey Holland - has been living a double life for eighteen years, managing to keep his two wives apart. With one family in Wimbledon and one in Streatham the man is a fool to himself, and how he ever gets any sleep I cannot imagine…
Technology has moved on, computers are in constant use, and his son and daughter from different marriages have met on the internet, discovered that they have a lot in common (much more than they know) and have arranged to meet for tea.
The opening scene is set in both houses at the same time as each youngster tells their respective mother of the arrangement, and the response from both wives of “You should have asked your father” was never more appropriate. When John hears of the plan, it suddenly dawns on him that his carefully contrived existence is about to be exposed. Catastrophe! The children must be kept apart at all costs, and who better to help him than his unfortunate friend and lodger Stanley Gardner Trevor Bannister, who is in truly hilarious form as expressions of panic and anguish cross his face when he struggles to invent ever more elaborate and preposterous excuses to explain John’s bizarre behaviour.
The intriguing part of the comedy is; how is John going to get out of this one? Well, let’s just say he needn’t have gone to so much trouble…
For farce to work well it has to be witty, fast moving, almost believable and performed with split-second timing. No room for mistakes here and, although this is not my personal favourite form of theatre, under Ian Dickens’ direction the show positively gallops along; timing is impeccable and full use is made of the essential numerous doors for rapid entrances and exits.
Caught in the Net is amusing, entertaining and, on the night I went, well received by an appreciative audience.
- Sheila Ann Connor (reviewed at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre in Guildford)