Writer: Dave Freeman
Director: Bruce James
Reviewer: Jenni Dixon
The audience are transported into a dingy foreign hotel room in France, somewhere near the German border, with its sand coloured wall paper and ill matching bed linen. Karak (David Rumelle) is first to appear as the handy man come porter. I can’t tell you what happened as the ill-positioned bedroom table and chair completely obstructed the view to anyone in the stalls to the left. There were laughs from the rest of the audience however. Rumelle seemed to struggle with his accent for the first 10 minutes or so, but he soon settled into his “Manuel” type rôle.
Stanley and Brenda (Damian Williams and Kylie Butler) are shown to their room after a long day’s motoring in Europe. They seem made up with their luck having not been able to obtain a room elsewhere and it being nearly 9pm. That, however, soon changes! Brenda is concerned that most of the guests are being taken to hospital with food poisoning while Stanley couldn’t care less. From that moment on, the farce unravels. The room is double booked, Brenda runs off to find a lost ring, Stanley is confronted with half naked women, the anticipation of husbands’ arrival, the swooning hotel manager, the incompetent blackmailing Porter and some old woman in the room next door! Williams kept the pace of this fast moving farce in the palm of his hands throughout. He was totally in control of his fellow actors and the audience at all times. I personally felt that he could have reigned in his ad-libbing for some of the time, (I could be wrong but his colleagues didn’t always seem THAT impressed) however, the audience seemed to really enjoy him taking it off tact and it gained him more laughs in return. Mr Williams’ facial expressions and body language were often all he needed but influence from the likes of Tommy Cooper, Morecambe and Wise and even his co-star’s late father, Les Dawson were apparent in his demeanour and expression of dialogue.
Paul Morse as Heinz, the German Hotel Owner is a flamboyant character, and as with Karak, he seemed to struggle with his accent initially (slight welsh twangs!), perhaps these were just first night nerves. Polly Smith and Jo Parsons, Claude and Helga Philby respectively were the backbone of the performance. Polly in particular really stood out for me, as she was the most consistent with her foreign accent and although often a part of, couldn’t be distracted from Williams’ ad-libbing. Just a very professional but enjoyable performance from her. Charlotte Dawson (Les Dawon’s daughter) appears as the “mistress” to Claude, but is soon embroiled in mistaken identity and the comic cover-ups that have entangled the users of the double booked hotel room. She is rather scantily clad for her entire performance – not for the faint hearted! She carries it all off with great confidence however but I thought the words of an audience member upon exiting the theatre summed up her appearance; “Oooo if her father could see her now!”.
The dialogue was often very fast but well timed, full of double entendre and enough innuendos to last you till Christmas. Stanley’s physical presence is funny to watch, if at times a little over powering over his fellow actors, but this is non-the-less a really good giggle. The audience certainly seemed suitably amused. This will only get better as the week goes on, so get down to the Connaught for a bit of escapism and a good old fashioned laugh.