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Ray Cooney comedies are always well-written and extremely funny, and this was a good vehicle for Janet Bray’s first directorial venture.  I thought it was well-directed, a few places where it could have been sharpened up, but considering the fact that cast replacements had to be made at fairly short notice, it was a pacey and laugh out loud production.

All the various nuances of the plot were very clear, and I liked the way the cast ensured we got the point.

The set was well-conceived, fairly standard for this play, but it worked really well.  I just needed perhaps a lower lighting set for the unused flat when we were swapping between the two.

The costumes were really good, particularly Bobby’s rather fetching animal print trousers and brightly coloured jacket, exactly right.  I also liked Barbara’s wardrobe – very elegant and colourful.

Alan Piercey as Detective Sergeant Porterhouse, a first time performer, gave us a very rounded character, and I thought he did really well on his debut.  I thoroughly enjoyed they way he ran with the tea scene, and the swapping of pet names, very funny.  Nicely accomplished, and hopefully we will see more of Andrew in future productions.

For me, Steven Pryer as Stanley was the stand out performer of the night, he got such credible facial expressions, and didn’t drop his character at all.  He created many good comedy moments, and showed his undoubted experience, as he linked the various other people involved.

A close second was Tracey Chatterley as Barbara, the very fashionable second wife.   Tracey gave us a real understanding of her character, a good all round portrayal, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

David Sachon as the beautifully camp Bobby gave us a different dimension and comedy perspective, very well played, and again a good contrast to the other players.  I loved the bowl of red paint, rubber gloves and frilly apron, such a delightful part that David gave his all to!

It was nice to see Barry Symonds on stage, rather than front of house, he had a small but important part as the reporter who took the photo that featured on the front of the newspaper, and we certainly noticed him.  Nicely played Barry.

Jane Murdoch was the original wife! – the rather more traditional Mary.  Jane created a more solid character than the flighty Barbara, which was good contrast.  However, I needed a little more confusion from her when all the action centred around her husband happened – she was a little too matter of fact.  That said as a whole she gave a good performance as a foil to Stanley, her husband and his other wife!

So now to Barry Hyde – who took over the lead role of John Smith at short notice, and created a really good character. He got all the different areas required, the confusion, the quick thinking and rather stupid but plausible explanations to the various policemen, his wives and Stanley.  I thought it was probably one of the best performances I have seen from Barry in a while.

The final character was Detective Sergeant Troughton played by Kevin Birkett.  A very laid back character, creating a good contrast with the more lively Porterhouse.  I note Kevin was assistant to the Director, and I’ve no doubt the play benefitted from his experience.

A really funny play, performed well, giving the audience every opportunity to relax and have a really good laugh, with people new to the stage and new to TADS, a fun evening.  I think Director Janet Bray managed to inject some of her undoubted enthusiasm into her cast, which enhanced the production.



TADS Theatre, Toddington

review date 12th June 2015

Director: Janet Bray  


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