Rumours spread like wildfire, but laughter at Progress Theatre last night was a little faster at catching on. Infectious shrieks started at the back and ebbed like a wave through the intimate auditorium and was given little relief throughout this fast paced, witty and charming show.
Director Amy Leversidge takes this American play, written by Neil Simons, and gives it a quintessential English and modern feel.We meet a group of noveau riche and socially prominent friends as they join together to celebrate the 10th wedding anniversary of Charlie and Viv. But Charlie is upstairs stunned; having shot himself in the earlobe, Viv has disappeared and the help are nowhere to be seen, leaving only a cold saucepan of pasta in their wake. It is left to the unknowing guests, who are already suffering from their own personal dramas, to cover up the impending scandal. It is truly a declaration to the ethos that the show must go on. And it does.
The farce is wonderfully choreographed, with the ladies and men congregating by the sexes creating a brilliant visual balance and allowing comic timing to be clearly executed. The ladies of the performance stole the show, and their sensitivity of their characters is certainly a tribute to Leversidge’s carful eye.
Lauren Gilbert is highly seductive as her character Claire meddles and struts across the stage with a hilarious brashness. Her clear displeasure at her husband, Len, and her quickness in her vocalisation allows the two to engage in some fiery repartee. Dan Clarke is an absolute pleasure to watch and he really is stand-out in his tireless performance, perfectly climaxed by the ending in his one-man dénouement.
The surprise ending had people laughing into the darkness and onto the streets. Encore!
Progress Theatre 18 Feb – 23 Feb 2013. Tickets: www.ReadingArts.com or 0118 960 6060