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Farce seems to be a bit like marmite: it either tickles your funny bone or it doesn't.

And, I'm afraid, it really isn't my favourite genre.

I'd love to be able to report that Clive Francis' adaptation of Ben Travers' 1927 comedy (which was the fourth in a series of a dozen so-called Aldwych farces produced between 1923 and 1933) managed to win me over. But despite a couple of spot on performances, Eleanor Rhode's somewhat laboured production comes across as an example of a heavy-handed formula that really has had its day.

Francis himself has a nice lightness of touch as randy old goat Sir Hector Benbow. His roving eye threatens to get him into trouble when his wife returns earlier than expected and finds him entertaining the South Molton Street shop girl he's invited to dinner.

James Dutton is perfectly at home as well-meaning, silly-ass Ronny, who's engaged to his far more sensible ward but finds himself sharing a double bed with Hector when they all decamp to the apparently haunted house which gives the venture its name.

Andrew Jarvis's creepy butler Death keeps a very straight face when called upon to emit an inventive repertoire of peculiar noises and this revival does have its amusing moments.

But the plot really creaks, the ending is perfunctory and the design barely distinguishes between town and country.

Park Theatre, Clifton Terrace,
Finsbury Park, N4 3JP
Tube | Finsbury Park
Until 22nd September, £19.50 
parktheatre.co.uk 

Photo: Ben Broomfield


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Thark - review: Park Theatre, Finsbury Park - London
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