BASKET CASE: Nick Fisher.
Theatre Royal: Tkts 0115 989 5555 www.royalcentre-nottingham.co.uk.
Runs: 1h 40m: one interval: till 29th October.
Performance times: 7.30pm, (Matinees 2.00pm Weds and 2.30pm Sat).
Review: Alan Geary: 11th October 2011.
Not a lot to get worked up about.
We’re in Ayckbourn country with Basket Case; the play promises a lot. But, sadly, it isn’t Ayckbourn, and it doesn’t deliver on its promise.
Middle-class Miranda is visited in desirable, open-beamed Wiltshire cottage by middle-class rake of an estranged husband Guy, and simultaneously by her middle-class and mild vet – Toby, the fifteen-year-old family dog is on his way out. James, a golfing mate Guy’s brought along with him, is the token working-class character.
This is thin fare. The plot is slight and, especially in the first half, it’s slow to develop. After the interval it picks up somewhat and becomes more engaging. Playwright Nick Fisher is primarily a TV writer and it shows: at only an hour and forty minutes the play seems over extended. The laughs don’t come thick or fast enough for sustained interest.
Acting’s good but there’s not really a lot to act; it’s an inconsequential piece demanding little from the four players.
Christine Kavanagh makes a tastily sympathetic and believable Miranda. Nigel Havers, in blazer and well-cut jeans as Guy, is caddish, vain and childish.
Graham Seed (Martin) is every inch a country vet. There’s an in-joke when The Archers signature tune comes out of the radio to remind us of Seed’s departure from that long-running soap when his character, Nigel Pargeter, plunged screaming from the roof earlier this year.
But David Cardy, as working-class James, turns in the chirpiest performance. One of the best bits of the evening is when he and Martin are arguing the respective merits of salmon fishing and golf. Both pursuits are made to sound futile.
Arguably, a fifth character, or sixth counting Toby, is the bright red, new looking Aga at the side of the set – Toby is in his basket in front of it. There’s more product placements when M & S and John Lewis get mentioned; and it deserves and earns a laugh when Guy makes a feeble attempt to suffocate Toby with a bag for life from Waitrose.
There’s not much to dislike in this play; but there’s not a lot to get worked up about either.
Miranda: Christine Kavanagh.
Martin: Graham Seed.
Guy: Nigel Havers.
James: David Cardy.
Director: Robin Lefevre.
Designer: Liz Ascroft.
Lighting: Ian Scott.