I’ve rarely seen actors trying quite so hard to make a play work, but it’s an uphill struggle in Richard Stirling’s new comedy which concerns itself with the vexed question of politicians’ expenses.
Newly elected minister Anthony Fleming and his glamorous wife Bea have just moved into their new residence where they’re playing host to her old school friend (whose husband scandalously crossed the parliamentary floor) and the unidentified party’s no-nonsense Vice Chairman (whose ill-advised mauve tint is at incongruous odds with her gung-ho army background).
Apart from Bea’s sudden transportations into theatrical reverie and the new housekeeper’s detour into a game of charades, there’s barely a line which isn’t either a joke or feeds into a punch line or a pun, and the relentless attempts at humour prove wearying.
The plot (involving the reappearance of a face from the Minister’s student past and a dubious expense claim hidden in a vase) is as weak as they come, and I can only extend my sympathies to the valiant cast (including Joe McGann and Lysette Anthony as the Flemings and Susan Kyd as her friend) who night after night will be faced with the impossible task of trying to turn this pig’s ear of a farce into a silk purse of a play.
Jermyn Street Theatre SW1Y 6ST
Tube: Piccadilly Circus
020 7287 2875
Till 26th June
Review: Louise Kingsley