Farce is a family affair
PUBLISHED: 10:19 26 March 2009 | UPDATED: 17:26 16 August 2010
RAY Cooney s 1987 farce It Runs in the Family provided plenty of much-needed laughter when it was revived recently at the Erith Playhouse. Dr David Mortimore (John Hart) is about to deliver an important speech at a neurologists convention when his old f
RAY Cooney's 1987 farce It Runs in the Family provided plenty of much-needed laughter when it was revived recently at the Erith Playhouse.
Dr David Mortimore (John Hart) is about to deliver an important speech at a neurologists' convention when his old flame Jane (Emma Stewart) drops the bombshell that he has an 18-year-old son, Leslie (Scott Godfrey), who desperately wants to see him.
Mortimore realises he must keep this from his wife Rosemary (Shelley Peters) and the hospital authorities, who may withhold the knighthood he so desperately craves.
Thus all is set for the sort of farce Cooney does so well - a pillar of the community struggling to hide a terrible secret and inventing ever more outrageous lies to get himself out of trouble.
As the aforesaid pillar, John Hart was thoroughly believable as the self-important doctor surrounded by idiots.
Chief among the idiots was John McLaren, playing Mortimore's colleague Dr Hubert Bonney. See him do a Nazi goosestep! See him sing like Al Jolson! See him gurn!
Actually just seeing him standing there doing nothing was enough to make me laugh.
Newcomer Peter Sapi made a big impression as frantic young doctor Mike Connolly, while John Penn gave a muted turn as the James Robertson Justice character so integral to any medical comedy.
Director Angela Arnell ensured the action came thick and fast, with a particularly well-choreographed second half that utilised every door and window in the somewhat spartan common room set (only three chairs - a very small hospital methinks).
As Leslie, Scott Godfrey was perfectly cast as a moody teenager, with Shelley Peters good as Mortimore's starchy wife and Paula Palmer excellent as the ward sister with a strange crush on Dr Bonney.
I spotted only two real flaws: Graham Frosdick was too young to play the wheelchair-bound geriatric (a thoroughly unfunny character who added nothing to the plot) while the back of the theatre was clearly visible through the prominently featured swing doors.
In every other way, just what the doctor ordered.
* The next production at the Erith Playhouse is The Gondoliers by Gilbert and Sullivan, from 30 March to 4 April. Tickets: 01322 526425.