…And virtually no idea about what was going on, and why, or between whom. But it hardly mattered, because the beauty of farce is that a tightly wrought plot, though essential, is also, counterintuitively, almost irrelevant. I think it all made sense; I even think I worked out how the miraculously beguiling Francis (Henshall – can’t be dealing with first names) came to have two such eminently captivating guvnors in Rachel and Stanley and why it mattered they each in their own turn didn’t know; I know that I sat there laughing and sniggering, and occasionally worrying for Alfie’s wellbeing. Brighton in 1963 was clearly quite a complicated place, and gangsters and their molls, being often more interested in brawn than a brainier alternative struggled with … higher order skills. Unless they’d been to boarding school. Or were budding ACTORS.
Our cast captured their confusions, pretensions and delusions with a wonderful lightness of touch, and delivery so slick it was truly professional. It’s a fantastic script, laced with running gags that get funnier through repetition, and visual gags that take the breath away – and to deliver them so well, while maintaining a ferocious pace, and yet give the plot the space to breath at least some semblance of a reality over its audience was masterful. The players gave their all, having earned every second of the rapturous response as the curtain fell.
So what actually happened? Well, in a nutshell… um… Charlie and Harry wanted Pauline to marry Alan, despite Stanley killing Rachel’s brother meaning that Rachel had to dress as the man Pauline had to marry, despite Lloyd spotting the deception from the start. This in turn meant there was money owed, and Dolly needed to make sure it got paid, but not before she and Francis (the ham in the sandwich, as served by Gareth, obviously) had their holiday thanks to Alfie’s trip to Thomas Cook’s. Not forgetting the Mashed Potatoes. Got it?
Our thanks, admiration, and lengthy applause go to the extremely fine cast, crew and directors on a wonderful, wonderful tour de ‘farce’.