Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Review - No Sex Please, We're British - Royalty Theatre

No Sex Please, We're British!
Royalty Theatre
24th Sept 2018

Written by Anthony Marriott and Allister Foot
Directed by Andrew Barella and David Farn

The Royalty's opening show of the season is a classic British farce - that staple of any game of charades in the 70s - No Sex Please We're British!

The play is set firmly in the 1970s and reflects the society at that time. Peter and Frances Hunter are newly weds, just settling into their flat above the bank where Peter is assistant manager. The flat is provided by the bank, and offers them little in the way of privacy - an intercom links the flat directly to the bank downstairs. Wanting to speed up her dream of owning a house with a garden, Frances has ordered a consignment of luxury Swedish Glassware to sell. This goes against the bank's policy which prohibits their manager's wives from working.  As if this was not bad enough, when the consignment arrives they discover to their horror that it is infact pornographic photographs. Add to this the arrival of Peter's mother, the regional manager of the bank, the financial inspector, and a missing cheque and you have the recipe for potential disaster. Lives could be ruined - and discovery must be avoided at all costs. Hilarity ensues as Peter and Frances, helped and hindered by head clerk Brian Runnicles, try to extricate themselves from this unfortunate predicament.

The set is simple - the living room of the flat with a selection of doors to facilitate the door slamming and room hopping which is a requirement of a good farce, and a malfunctioning sliding partition to the kitchen, used throughout for physical comedic effect. The set itself is fairly nondescript - it could be from almost any era, but the costumes (by Laura Finlay and Sue Bailey) are bang on 70s with wing banger collars, beige suits and amorphous print dresses. Director Andrew Barella chose to keep the 1970s setting but he could easily have set this play in the present and it would have worked (with just a bit of a feminist tweak) in light of the recent revelations about sexual misconduct in high places.

The cast do a stirling job, eliciting plenty of belly laughs from the audience as the situation becomes
more and more farcical and the attempts to remedy things lead to more and more outlandish ideas and consequences. Lee Wilkins portrayal of the increasingly desperate banker, does not  disappoint, while Nichol Kilty gives good support as his beleaguered wife. the star of the show is undoubtedly Tom Kelly as Brian Runnicles, who flounces and sulks his way through the many outrageous attempts to dispose of the illicit materials. Mik Richardson adds to the hilarity of the final act with and over the top performance of sleeping pill induced stupor. Special mention should also go to the two ladies of the night - not mentioned in the programme - who provide the spice in the final act.

There are of course some first night hitches - boxes that refuse to perform, and scenery that wobbles perilously when the doors slam, one or two stutters over lines, but there are also plenty of well delivered lines, pregnant pauses and raging innuendo. It's a fun start to the season - as long as you take the 70s misogyny with a pinch of salt!

No Sex Please runs until Saturday 29th Sept - advance booking gets you a reduced price on the ticket but even at £9 on the door it will hardly break the bank! Book at Ticketsource .

Denise Sparrowhawk

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