The makers of this year’s cinema version of the Ray Cooney comedy found out the hard way that farce doesn’t make good film.
If only they’d talked to the Charity Players first... With their 23 years’ experience, and their second production of this stage play, they make it all look much more effortless and – above all – fun.
But then they understand that the essence of farce is always to have its cast, and audience for that matter, teetering on the brink of comedy chaos.
Cooney achieves that with a meticulous plot woven around one man with two wives.
It’s outrageously ‘non-PC’ and, although only 30 years old, looks like it has travelled from another time rather than just down the decades. Indeed it could almost make you yearn for the days when entendres came at the double.
The script and the situations fly by like a series of fast-moving Bamforth postcards and the Players are blessed with a cast that match some of those caricatures.
Paul Armitt is particularly adept, throwing himself physically into the role of the bigamous black cab driver, while Players’ newcomer Steve Dobson carries his own fair share of the laughs in the comedy conduit role of a neighbour forced to share in the marital conspiracy.
Maureen Nickson and Carol Buckley set the standard for this production from curtain up with a perfectly-timed scene-setting introduction to the two worlds of their two-timing husband.
And James Miley and Dominic Swarbrick make a fine pair of deadpan police detectives.
Naturally John Nickson can’t help himself – nor should he – from scene-stealing in a set of best exotic Marigolds!
Dan Haresnape completes the cast as a newspaper photographer, but director John Ellis has clearly kept his cast sharply focussed throughout.
Long may the Players continue to raise laughs, as well as cash for St Catherine’s Hospice.