The Ring of Truth
It's a farcical tale of upstairs/downstairs domestic politics masking deeper musings on the battle between rationalism and superstition. There are some funny moments, and several stand-out performances in Auriol Smith's Orange Tree production, but the text is weighed down with psycho-babble and a good half an hour too long.
The plot revolves around the loss of an engagement ring, which sparks a chain of misunderstandings in the household of thirty-something careerists Tom and Emma Gore. He initially plays down the incident, tenuously comparing her mourning for the ring with religious idolatry. But soon events spiral out of control as a pushy insurance rep persuades them to call in the police, causing mass hysteria among the household staff and attendant hangers-on.
Most of the best moments are brought about after the interval by Ian Talbot's over-zealous Police Sergeant, relishing the opportunity to bring the house of cards crashing down. But the jokes are swamped in a lagoon of longueurs as Browne attempts to make sweeping philosophical analogies through the prism of drawing room farce.
Among the other performances, Steven Elder and Cate Debenham-Taylor make for a fine central couple, and Paul Bigley puts in a good comic turn as snivelling insurance man Mr Filby. Dudley Hinton does his best with the role of fantasist socialist author Clifford Small (a cheap shot at Osborne and co?), but the character is incongruous and largely a mouthpiece for yet more philosophic waffle.