Monday, October 21, 2013


Phoenix Theatre Company at Christ Church

Three black holdalls on the carousel, two couples trespassing in a villa in Spain, one snake on the patio.
Eric Chappell's flimsy farce features a washed-up actor [skilfully caught by Andy Millward] desperate to be recognised for his soap career in the 80s, with his bit on the side – Angela Gee making the most of Dodie off the cheese-spread commercials.
Their partners in crime are mild-mannered Syd Smith, who should have been creosoting the fence, and his mousy wife [Helen Langley]. The only innocent here is Sir Cliff, whose evocative Summer Holiday is the overture.
The plot curdles with the arrival of Geoff Hadley's ruthless Rayner – a strong stage presence – as the sangria flows and confusion is worse confounded. Not to mention Mad Dog Moon, the dapper axe-man [a nicely dead-pan Jeremy Pruce].
Chris Wright's production for Phoenix boasts a nice warm set, with convincing villa furniture and a decorative gecko on the wall. There are some lively, manic moments, but it would have been good to see more consistently confident performances, with a cracking pace building to a satisfying comedy climax.

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