by Brian Clemens & Dennis Spooner

directed by Neil Tranmer

Burnley Garrick


A farce is described as a play characterised by broad humour and a complicated and improbable plot. The term now is most often applied to the ‘bedroom farce’, in which sexual innuendo is a major ingredient.  The Aldwych farces of Ben Travers, et al, in the 1920s and 30s, and the Whitehall farces of the 1950s and 60s, which featured Brian Rix, are the most famous.


Written in 1979, this play is an attempt to create something of the madcap world of farce and was brought to life on a superb stage by Burnley Garrick.


A team of experienced players wrestled with the ever-increasing madcap world in which a honeymoon couple, Jeremy and Celia Winthrop, had come home early, despite the fact that Jeremy had told his two business colleagues that they could make use of his home.  The plot became complicated when both partners availed themselves of the offer in order to have clandestine affairs with each other’s wives.


With an entrance to the kitchen and patio, French windows to the garden, two doors to bedrooms, a door to the bathroom, a door to the cellar, and an unseen front door, the set gave the characters many opportunities to miss each other in the unfolding storyline.


All the required ingredients for a fast-moving farce were in evidence, including misunderstandings, dropped trousers, running gags, innuendo and rapid movement of characters and properties. The director had choreographed the Garrick cast so well that there were no unscheduled pile-ups or missed cues.


All this meant that the dialogue had to be delivered at break-neck speed and it was, occasionally perhaps, just a tad too fast.  But I am sure the audience missed none of the frantic shenanigans unfolding in front of them.


Jeremy and Celia were played by Gary Leonard and Sophie Greenwood.  Sophie’s calm delivery when all around her was chaotic was superb and contrasted well with Gary’s rising hysteria.


Simon Bailey, as Humphrey Jessel, and Susan Dinsdale, as Sara Ward, were the first couple to arrive believing they had the house to themselves. The pent-up sexual frustration, countered by a guilt factor, was highlighted well by both Simon and Susan.


David Kendrick, as Peregrine Ward, and Corrina Clark, as Thelma Jessel, were the second couple to arrive, believing they too had the house to themselves. David displayed the guilt ridden, first time for an affair, man partnered with Corrina, who played the role with a much more libertine attitude towards the whole experience. Her character was extremely well portrayed.


Whilst all six characters were completely at home with their roles, I did feel that perhaps, as characters, they were just a little too chaste with their respective partners.


The running gag throughout the play was Sid, the plumber, played by Wayne Brankin, making a welcome return to the Garrick stage.


The storyline had called for there to be a leak in the cellar which Sid was repairing, but, as became evident throughout the play, Sid was not a particularly good plumber, and the leak was getting bigger and becoming a torrent. Each time Sid came on stage he was wetter and wetter.  He also liked a tot or three of whisky, so that by the end of the play, he was three sheets to the wind.  An excellent portrayal stopping just short of too much.


The set was excellent with sufficient furnishings to indicate comfort, but also to allow the cast to move around freely.


Serving two dinners at breakneck speed is not easy. I think set jelly in the soup plates might have been better than just empty bowls.


Overall this was a satisfying end to the Garrick season and a play that will amuse the audiences.