Review: See How They Run
Venue: Theatre Royal, September 24
See How They Run was first performed in 1944, the year before the Second World War ended, and has become one of the classic British farces.
Director Juliet Forster (Blue/Orange, Angels & Insects) has brought See How They Run to York for a new run; farce is undergoing something of a revival as a genre in the theatre apparently.
The play is a tale of confusion, mistaken identity, vicars, soldiers, maids and more. It is also a very cheeky comedy.
We opened with messages emblazoned across the curtain, flickering like those old newsreels you see in movies, setting the wartime scene nicely. Once those curtains opened, we were in the vicarage of small town Merton-cum-Middlewick, a massive set of some complexity.
In essence the set is a living room, but as we were to find out later, many doorways leading off it would come into play.
Retired actress and niece of a bishop Mrs Toop (Faye Winter) is now married to the local vicar, living with small town gossips who are shocked by her lively personality. Mrs Toop receives a visit from an old actor friend, now a soldier, and they decide to go for a night out.
To tell you much more would rob you of some of the highlights of the show but suffice to say, at one point there are four men dressed as vicars, a parish lady in a cupboard, a bishop (Matthew Rixon) in his pyjamas and a whole lot of shenanigans.
A very game cast give it their all in a very physical show, running in and out of doors, up and down stairs, changing outfits and pulling unconscious people around the set.
All this while maintaining composure with some very silly dialogue (in a good way).
My wife and I enjoyed ourselves immensely. The biggest laughs were generated by Lucy Phelps as the cheeky maid Ida, and Philip Mansfield as replacement vicar Humphrey.
To be fair, the whole cast got belly laughs. This production’s ensemble is excellent, balanced perfectly between the physicality of the slapstick and the clever wordplay of the script.
Precise timing is required to pull off gags like these, both verbally and physically and they nailed it. The commitment from the actors means this play deserves a big audience. I would happily bring anyone from eight to 80 to see it. Great fun.
- See How They Run is at York Theatre Royal until Saturday, October 12 at 7.30pm, with 2pm (Thurs) and 2.30pm (Sat) matinees
- Tickets are from £8 to £24. For more details, see the Theatre Royal website
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