by Marc Camoletti translated by Beverley Cross and Francis Evans.
Clwyd Theatr Cymru (Emlyn Williams Theatre) CH7 1YA To 10 November 2012.
Mon-Sat 7.30pm Sat Mat 2.30pm.
Runs 2hr 5min One interval.
TICKETS: 0845 330 3565.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 2 November.
Return flight smoothly piloted.
So this is what people lust after: a 50-year old farce about a sophisticated man scheduling three air-hostesses as stopover mistresses in his Paris flat. True, his timetabling goes awry, and his unsophisticated old school pal visits and scoops the female attention, while the women have a kind of independence within their national stereotypes. But at heart this is a piece where male sexual desire is veiled in romantic yearning and women make for the bath rather than the bed.
So, good clean fun, one way and another. And for anyone remembering the sixties when Marc Camoletti’s farce was a multi-year West End runner, mixing traditional values with a specious sense of topical permissiveness (French, so excusable), nostalgia will probably be less about the suavely confident male, nor three glamorous, elegantly-limbed young women in bright airline uniforms, than the branded flight-bags with their TWA, Alitalia and Lufthansa logos.
It came up fresh enough in London five years ago, and it emerges as finely in Terry Hands’ Theatr Clwyd revival. Hands’ best Clwyd work has tended to be stuff without laughs, but ages ago he directed an hilarious Merry Wives for the Royal Shakespeare Company.
In both plays, the joke is it’s the women who get what they want: American Gloria a tame husband back home, leaving excitable and determined (respectively) Gabriella and Gretchen for Bernard, forced finally from philandering to the altar and Robert who can’t believe he’s attracted a beautiful woman.
The scene where this happens is the production’s highlight, thanks to Steven Meo’s Robert, low self-esteem and naivety wrung through inventive comic detail, the audience willing him to succeed even while laughing at him. Simon Dutton’s Bernard owns Mark Bailey’s elegantly-designed pad, and retains his self-certainty till things grow really complicated. Yet it’s when his tactics take him away, leaving Robert dealing with the simultaneous presence of the women, dashing around to prevent their meeting, then filing his friend in on who’s where around the apartment that hilarity grows. The country friend has replaced classical comedy’s tricky servant as comic engine, and gives the performance of the evening.
Gabriella: Tara Dixon.
Bernard: Simon Dutton.
Gloria: Eleanor Howell.
Bertha: Victoria John.
Robert: Steven Meo.
Gretchen: Caryl Morgan.
Director/Lighting: Terry Hands.
Designer: Mark Bailey.
Sound: Matthew Williams.