Wednesday, March 19, 2014


Cut to the Chase at the Queen's Theatre Hornchurch

We're back in the Seventies – matador poster, inflatable chair, downlighters and eye-watering wallpaper. Harold Wilson in Westminster, Rodney Marsh at Wembley.
And how titillating this title seemed back then – hinting at swingers, free love and the permissive society. In fact, of course, there's no sex to be had, and the very British plot revolves around a classic midlife crisis.
George [a very sensitive human being] has ditched his vest and acquired a sports car, a yellow tracksuit and chest expanders. Out goes Oscar Hammerstein; in comes Alice Cooper and “The Spew”. And could he but find the courage, he would be unfaithful with Jane, a chance acquaintance young enough to be his daughter …
Factor in Jane's laid-back boyfriend, masquerading as a shrink, an actual agony aunt, George's tolerant wife and Jane's actual father and you have the makings of a farce in the tradition of Feydeau and Rix.
Cut to the Chase pull out all the stops to breathe life into a somewhat dated script by Richard Harris and Leslie Darbon.
Sean Needham is outstanding as the pathetic George – shades of that great comic actor Paul Eddington – working the inflatable chair, doing a heroic double-take in the doorway. Callum Hughes is amusing as Nick, seizing the opportunity for revenge by seducing his rival's wife Clare [Claire Storey] but ending up on the couch himself. His emancipated live-in girlfriend is played with gusto by Ellie Rose Boswell, making her first appearance at the Queen's. The sextet is completed by Georgina Field's Aunt Ruth [aka Madam Zenda] and Simon Jessop's nicely drawn dad in flares.
The superb split set [Claire Lyth] cleverly contrasts the bourgeois and the bohemian, but the farce only really takes off when the two settings begin to mirror each other and overlap, ending up with all six characters coming home to roost in Clare's lovely lounge. But despite the frantic scoffing of sandwiches and slamming of doors, there is too much talk, not enough manic action for a true farce. So while Matt Devitt's production successfully captures the style, it is somewhat let down by a lack of substance.

this piece first appeared on The Public Reviews

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