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Nottingham/Touring.

OUT OF ORDER: Ray Cooney.
3Stars***


Theatre Royal: Tkts 0115 9895555 www.royalcentre-nottingham.co.uk.
Full information: Tom O’Connell Productions.
Runs: 2h 5m: one interval: till 21st July.
Performance times: 7.30pm, (matinees 2.00pm Weds, 2.30pm Sat).
Review: Alan Geary: 17th July 2017.


Not one of Cooney’s best but much more than a serviceable night out.

If you’re comparing Out of Order with The Duck House – and it’s a fair comparison because the latter was also a contemporary political farce where a fairly prominent politician engaged in dodgy-doing is at risk of career-imploding exposure – Out of Order fares badly. It has a far less complex and more clichéd plot for a start, even allowing for the fact that farce follows certain conventions.

Conservative junior minister Richard Willey (Jeffrey Harmer) has booked in to the Westminster Hotel for a night of lust with Jeremy Corbyn’s secretary – naturally she makes an early appearance in bra and panties. But things quickly go awry when they find a dead man half in, half out of their room. Seems he was trying to get in from the balcony when the sash window fell on him.

Willey is clearly in a PR hole. But attempts to get himself out of it, initially by recruiting his secretary, George Pigden (Shaun Williamson), into a bound-to fail-scheme, make the hole deeper.

All the actors do a sterling job, Harmer and Williamson especially. Harmer has to and does alternate between the look of an optimistic schoolboy cooking up a shortest of short-term solution and that of the same schoolboy who thinks he’s found one. Williamson, who already has a difficult mother at home, wears a look of anguished desperation getting worse by the minute.

Arthur Bostrum, as The Manager who’s failing to manage, is also excellent. It’s at the point when his trousers drop that you wonder whether Ray Cooney is not simply presenting a farce but sending the genre up.

Problems with scenery involving the window and one of the three doors – you wonder whether they’re all intentional – generate some super (apparent) ad-libbing.

This is not one of Cooney’s best but the whole mess makes more than a serviceable night out.


George Pigden: Shaun Williamson.
Pamela Willey: Sue Holderness.
Richard Willey: Jeffrey Harmer.
Jane Worthington: Susie Amy.
The Waiter: James Holmes.
The Manager: Arthur Bostrum.
Nurse Gladys Foster: Elizabeth Elvin.
Ronnie Worthington: Jules Brown.
The Body: David Warwick.


Writer/Director: Ray Cooney.
Set and Costume Designer: Rebecca Brower.
Lighting Designer: Jack Weir.
Sound Designer: James Nicholson.
 
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