CARRY On meets Fawlty Towers in a brilliantly ridiculous piece of theatre.
There’s no better celebration of historical British comedy than this capricious caper.
After a rare, not-to-be-missed pre curtain-up treat from superb skiffle band The Craze, who also play at the interval and during scene changes with members of the cast, we meet our hungry and hapless hero, Francis Henshall, who new star Gavin Spokes manages to make both loveable and laughable in one.
Following much confusion involving twins, murder, mistaken marriage proposals and love triangles, he arrives in ’60s Brighton with two jobs, two bosses and two pay packets, which means hopefully enough for two lunches.
Cue plenty of laugh-a-minute antics as Henshall tries to keep his bosses, who happen to be engaged to each other, apart – and feed his rumbling stomach.
The improvised moments involving the audience are especially hysterical, some of the hilarious monologues cleverly scripted and some just made up on the spot.
Spokes enjoys great chemistry with his love interest Dolly, played as a fabulously feisty northerner by Hampshire’s own Emma Barton, who had a coachload of family and friends among the appreciative crowd.
The small cast were brilliant to a man, with particular stand-out slapstick moments from Patrick Warner as posh toff Stanley Stubbers, Derek Elroy as convict turned chef Lloyd, David Verrey as ultimate loophole lawyer Harry Dangle and Michael Dylan as Alfie, the world’s worst waiter.
The story doesn’t get any less bizarre as the show goes on, but the audience lap up every mischievous moment of this delightful National Theatre production with its incredible physical comedy and ramshackle seaside feel.
Expect a fabulous five-star farce.