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A Bedfull of Foreigners (tour – Westcliff, Palace Theatre)

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
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I think we’re in France, somewhere in the Dutch-German-Swiss border areas. And I suspect we’re in the mid- to later half of the 20th century. I can’t confirm this for you, as for some weird reason at this date of the new tour of Dave Freeman’s farce, the production doesn’t come equipped with programmes. It does however come with a multiple malfunctioning door setting which offers us a hotel family room.

This establishment is the Eurozone equivalent of Fawlty Towers. It’s late autumn and there’s a town festivity under way, which (naturally) has resulted in double bookings. First on the scene are working-class couple Brenda (Kylie Butler) and Stanley (Damien Williams. He’d rather gone to Skegness and, given the hotel general factotum Karak (David Rumelle) and manager Heinz (Paul Morse), who could blame him?

Then there’s cool blonde Helga (Polly Smith) who plans to give her husband Claude (Jo Parsons) a surprise. Claude has one of his own – cabaret artiste-cum-stripper Simone (Charlotte Dawson). Add in an off-stage female Bulgarian bicycling champion, her dogs and a perambulating radiator – not to mention the aforesaid doors – and you can guess what chaos ensues.

“Europe is full of foreigners, especially those who are in the wrong country” sums it all up neatly. And if Williams is ever in search of a third career, that of teaching actors how not to corpse onstage, deal with ad-libs and impromptu disasters might be ideal. Butler, Dawson and Smith hold their own in these circumstances better than do Morse and Parsons. I know that theatre is in part the art of the unbelievable, but farce is much funnier when all the actors take it seriously.


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