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Alarms and Excursions (Plymouth)

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
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Expecting a riotous evening from the pen of Noises Off writer Michael Frayn and looking forward particularly to seeing Neil Pearson (Drop The Dead Donkey, Bridget Jones) and Only Fool and Horses’s Cassandra (Gwyneth Strong), Alarms and Excursions unfortunately came nowhere near the mark.

Pearson and Strong are not in it at all (by which I do not mean to diminish the actual cast’s ability but I was rather looking forward to experiencing Mr Pearson’s charms first hand) and the content disappointing and dated (amusing as Immobiles is, this has a sell-by date as very soon the majority of the audience will not remember a time when answer machines were the latest mod con).

It’s a collection of humorous pieces based (very loosely or not at all) around the theme of alarms and excursions but, entertaining as moments may be, these would really be more at home in a 70s’ sit com or sketch show.

Produced by Ian Fricker and Richard Temple there are cringe-worthy holiday faux pas, age-old marriage compromises and understanding, dinner party pretensions and other recognisable awkward situations spiked with Frayn’s trademark farce and quite a lot of exits and entrances as may be expected.

The type of thing which would amuse while waiting for the kettle to boil.

The stalwart cast of Robert Daws (The Royal, Rock ‘n’ Chips), Belinda Lang (2Point4 Children), Aden Gillett (Silk, House of Elliott) and Serena Evans (The Thin Blue Line) do their best (except for the accents at times) to play some 26 characters – mainly middle classes at work and play but including chavs on holiday, a brolly-wielding oldster and a German tourist.

There is no time for character development or hidden agendas – the eight sketches are packed into a couple of hours including interval. And for the most part they convince – of particular delight is Dawes’s Dietrich, Gillett’s Lawrence, Lang’s Lynne and Evans’s long suffering ‘Sharon’.

Directed by Joe Harmston (Verdict) with designs by Simon Scullion (Girls Night Out and The Haunting), this is pleasant enough but no real belly laughs for the mainly grey audience. To be frank, I was glad not to have parted with £23.00 for my seat.


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