Farce is their forte

PUBLISHED: 15:31 29 July 2009 | UPDATED: 17:14 16 August 2010

PERFORMED recently at Bromley Little Theatre (BLT), Ray and Michael Cooney s farce Tom, Dick and Harry combined the familiar comedy set-ups

PERFORMED recently at Bromley Little Theatre (BLT), Ray and Michael Cooney's farce Tom, Dick and Harry combined the familiar comedy set-ups of Fawlty Towers with the less obviously funny subject of brutal killings in Kosovo and the theft of hospital cadavers, writes Mark Campbell.

The result was a comedy that - although broadly successful - tried a little too hard to wring laughter out of increasingly difficult material.

Tony Wright-Jones played Tom, a highly-strung Basil Fawlty figure desperate to adopt a child with his long-suffering wife Linda (Chris Williams).

Expecting a visit from the frumpy adoption officer Mrs Potter (Jan Greenhough), the last thing he wants is for his wastrel brothers, Dick (Paul Johnson, in one of his innumerable appearances at the theatre) and Harry (an excellent Stevie Hughes), to cock things up for him.

But guess what? When Harry delivers some (fake-looking) body parts in Sainsbury's bags and Dick offloads an enormous quantity of smuggled fags, the scene is set for one desperate lie after another as Tom tries to stay one step ahead of a suspicious Mrs Potter and a nosey PC (an obviously amused Simon Vyvyan).

Once again, the BLT proved farce is its forte.

Robert Dilks directed with gusto, keeping the pace fast and furious so the audience rarely got a chance to wonder at the improbability of it all.

Physical moments of comedy abounded, in particular Paul Johnson's extended mime sequence and Tony Wright-Jones' rugby-dive onto the ingeniously self-raising sofa, in which body bits and a drunken asylum seeker (Tim Betts) are strategically hidden.

In minor roles, Ami Williamson did her best as an orphaned refugee in a woefully underwritten part (she wasn't even the token sex interest, a vital component missing from the mix), while Richard Boorman looked suitably aggressive as a gun-toting gangster.

The next production at Bromley Little Theatre is Ira Levin's Deathtrap from September 11-19. Tickets: 07917 853621.

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