Friday, January 24, 2014

Review - Charley's Aunt - People's Theatre

Charley's Aunt
22nd Jan 2014
The People's Theatre

The People's Theatre started their new season off in style with a classic comedy. The three acts encompass a single day in the lives of Jack Chesney (Ian Willis) and Charles Wykeham (Ricky Shah), two Oxford students about to go down at the end of term and desperately in love. They are in need of a plan to ensure they capture the hearts of Miss Kitty Verdun (Emma Wass) and Miss Amy Spettigue (Jess Chapman).
There are plenty of obstacles to be overcome - lack of funds, lack of champagne, the lack of a suitable chaperone, and the need to avoid an overbearing, over-protective uncle and guardian. Opportunity presents itself in the form of Charley's Aunt - recently returned to England from Brazil (where the nuts come from!), widowed and rich, and eager to finally meet her last remaining relative, Charles.
A lunch is planned -the respectable (and rich!) elderly aunt can act as chaperone. Naturally things do not go as planned - the aunt is delayed and a new plan is hatched, and their unfortunate friend is dragooned into helping out by pretending to be the aunt. After all, it only needs to be for a couple of hours over lunch. Just long enough to give them time to declare their hearts and intentions. What could possibly go wrong?
Well, pretty much everything, as it happens.. Starting with the unexpected arrival the girl's guardian. What ensues is a comedy of errors, as the various characters try to meet or avoid meeting each other.

This is a great, feel good play - light hearted and fun.  The plot is a well known one, with the audience well aware that it is all bound to go horribly wrong, but also certain that everything will come right in the end, somehow! Jake Wilson Craw is brilliant as the cross-dressing Babbs, see-sawing between mischief-making and indignation. As is Crispin Welby as the long suffering Brassett. Great acting, good timing, beautifully produced and directed, Charley's Aunt is a timeless comedy and definitely proof against the January blues.

It plays until 25th January.

Denise Sparrowhawk

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