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Posts Tagged ‘Patricia Hayes’

I felt like I’d gate-crashed a party. The rest of the audience was clapping entrances & exits and whooping & cheering lines and performances. The set looked like one of those period rooms in a museum – ‘Victorian Mill Owners Parlour, 1908’ – which had come alive with all of these people in period costumes.

I’ve seen the play twice before – in 1988 with Patricia Routledge, Prunella Scales and Patricia Hayes (who had been the maid in the original production 50 years earlier) and 14 years ago with Alison Steadman and Dawn French – but this time it seemed much more of a creaky old warhorse, the stuff of rep and tours that rarely gets into the West End but was paying a visit and had brought its provincial audience with it.

It’s not very typical of Priestly, a playwright much more fond of moralistic pieces like An Inspector Calls. It’s a simple comedy about three couple who, on their silver anniversaries, discover their marriages may not be legal. It’s well structured and there are some funny lines, but it now seems insubstantial stuff – though in all fairness it was two nights after my second look at the extraordinary Clybourne Park.

The chief pleasure – and I mean this affectionately not patronisingly or critically – is seeing a bunch of old pro’s like Roy Hudd, Sam Kelly, Lynda Baron and Maureen Lipman letting their hair down and having some late career fun; in the end this proved a bit infectious and I warmed to it (though that may have been the third glass of wine in the interval!).

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