Director: Ian Talbot
Written By: Richard Gordon and Ted Willis
Reviewer: Flip Miller
The Public Reviews Rating:
The show starts in the present day with two of our hapless heroes, Tony Grymsdyke played by Joe Pasquale and John Evans, played by Tom Butcher, responding to a request of “Is there a Doctor in the House”. Joe Pasquale then addresses the audience in his famous stand up style and explains how Tony, John and Simon all came to be friends. We are then transported back to their garret and so the show begins.
Up the curtains come and we see a chaotic set with many facets. There are a lot of props packed onto the set that don’t have a function within the play but go to add interest for the audience member whose attention wanders from the action on stage to the surroundings. For example, the bicycle suspended from the ceiling or the loft ladder that leads up to the trap door and the telescope and chair on the roof. In fact the set had more character and presence than some of the actors on stage.
Joe Pasquale played a very mature, mature student and looked more like someone’s father than an under achieving under graduate. However, his one liners to the audience and his comic timing were second to none. Phillip Longhorne, playing Simon Swallow, and Tom Butcher were perfect foils for Pasquale’s brand of slapstick.
Sir Lancelot Spratt, ably played by Robert Powell, hit the nail on the head when describing Emma Barton’s character Vera, Tony Grimsydke’s fiancée, when he said “Who is this girl with the awful accent?”. Ms Barton’s accent dipped in and out of France like a frequent flyer with no intention of staying. However, she played the part of Vera with dignity. The chemistry between her and Joe Pasquale was very evident and you were made to believe they were in love.
Accents were certainly an issue in this production. Allison McKenzie’s Australian accent was more a caricature of an Australian accent. Having said that her projection was good and her fog horn like delivery and masculine mannerisms suited the character very well.
The show was lacking in storyline and what little story there was did not become evident until well into the second half of the play. You got the impression that the writers didn’t know how to finish either the first half or even the end of the play. In fact, Joe Pasquale had to tell the audience that the show had ended.
At times the cast got caught up with their own humour and in jokes. They would burst into laughter at something they found funny. Luckily the audience laughed with them. However, at times you were made to feel that you were at a party you hadn’t been invited to.
Doctor in The House is better suited to the TV screen on a wet Sunday afternoon than this stage play. Perhaps, now after 60 years since the book was first written, it is time for this Doctor to retire.
Runs until Saturday 28th July and then touring