Run For Your Wife
Until November 23
The Mill at Sonning
Sonning Eye RG4 6TY
0118 969 8000
NICK WILTON is a sex symbol. And provides hope for all fat, balding, middle-aged men everywhere. After all, if he is irresistible to not one but two beautiful women, and a neighbour upstairs, well, who needs to watc that middle-age spread?
He plays John Smith, a taxi driver who has an orderly system to ensure that his wives – Mary (Michelle Morris) and Barbara (Judy) never suspect that he’s playing away from home.
And both dote on him, ensuring that their diaries include plenty of – ahem – quality time, just time for them to, wink, wink, nudge, nudge, say no more.
As already said, a beacon of hope for all men who are slightly past it hoping for the best with their wives.
Nick Wilton is an actor who has a familiar face to anyone watching Children’s BBC comedy shows in the 1980s such Fast Forward, and is perfectly cast as John Smith. He has a spot-on Tony Hancock-esque double take expressive face that drips all the necessary emotions: fear, panic, despair, as his complex plans unravel.
Ray Cooney’s comedy – which has had long West End runs, as well as all around the world – is one of his absolute best farces, and he’s returned to The Mill to direct it.
In true tradition, this is a farce that builds and builds as John Smith adds lie upon lie in a bid to prevent his wives from discovering the truth about him. Unfortunately, for him, everything he does makes things worse.
His troubles begin when he helps stop a mugging, taking to hospital with concussion. As the police seek an address to take him home to, he gives the doctors one address and the coppers another. And therein begins the lies. And the laughter.
And the laughter keeps building until it becomes a strong belly aching non-stop session – the whole audience join in as the situation becomes even more comical.
The cast is packed with stardust, many familiar to regular audiences.
Husband and wife team Jeffrey Holland (Spike from Hi-de-Hi) and Judy Buxton (Blake’s Seven, among many others), for example. Holland is helpful neighbour Stanley Gardner, while Judy is Streatham wife Barbara, a woman determined to ensure that her day off with her husband is spent in bed.
Elizabeth Elvin (Hot Fuzz) is one police officer, all strict and stern and taking no-nonsense. Her straight-laced copper is the perfect foil to the craziness going on around her.
It’s a contrast to David Warwick (Doctor Who), who plays plainclothes detective DS Porterhouse, who ends up in a pinny and making tea. Delme Thomas, who was a hit in The Mill’s recent Move Over Mrs Markham, is also back as Barbara’s camp upstairs neighbour Bobby Franklyn.
Michelle Morris is a familiar face from television and carefully manages Mary’s manic moods as her concern for her missing and mysterious husband continues. An innocent in John’s deception, you can’t help but feel sorry for her.
The set is very creative: it looks like one lounge, but thanks to some clever painting and a generous use of enter stage left or stage right, it’s easy to determine which location you’re in.
Kudos too to the set dressers, especially for the period newspapers.
Originally written in the 1970s, some of Cooney’s comedy doesn’t reflect where we are as a society today, but it is not intended to be offensive, just an absurd situation with much to laugh about.
Cooney’s direction is sharp and, with the dual nature of the set, it needed to be. The cast are clearly working well together and thoroughly enjoying bringing the farce to life. How they manage to avoid corpsing is a mystery.
All in all, another hilarious triumph from The Mill – if you don’t come out of the show laughing, you have a heart of stone.