NO SEX PLEASE, WE'RE BRITISH
Chelmsford Theatre Workshop at the Old Court Theatre
“The amateur version is different ...they like to give everyone a chance.”
The difference in this case is the tranny hooker sent as Customer Satisfaction Agent in Act Two – a memorable cameo by Tonio Ellis, in kinky boots and brazen G-cup falsies.
This throwback farce from the 70s is an uneasy encounter between Brian Rix and the Permissive Society. It demands sturdy doors, a breakneck pace and sit-com style performances that transcend the lame script.
John Mabey's production has some lovely details – the musical opening, the Teasmade, the rubber chicken and the pendulous tassel. Not to mention the foyer cards paying homage to the Confessions movies.
Some masterly performances, too. Good to see Jean Speller on this stage as the annoying mother-in-law. Losing their trousers to the manner born are Jesse Powis as the bank official Bromhead, and Terry Cole hilarious as Needham from Hounslow. And holding the show together, inhabiting the manic genre with aplomb, the excellent Simon Burrell as Runnicles the randy little cashier.
Working hard as the innocent newly-weds drowning in unsolicited filth sent “on approval” are Rebecca Segeth and Martin Baker, with Gavin Maclure as a kindly police inspector.
Enjoyable nostalgia for those who remember Dubonnet and decimalisation, though production values are patchy: the newspaper, the serving hatch, the stairs. No doubt the pace and the timing will be honed as the run goes on – no professional company would let this be judged without several audience previews.
More nostalgia next time from CTW, with an Agatha Christie from the wartime West End.