DOCTOR IN THE HOUSE: Gordon, Theatre Royal Nottingham till 14th April


DOCTOR IN THE HOUSE: Richard Gordon (adapted Ted Willis).
Theatre Royal: Tkts 0115 989 5555
Runs: 2h 5m: one interval: till 14th April.
Performance times: 7.30pm (matinees 2.00pm Wed and Thurs, 2.30pm Sat).
Review: Alan Geary: 10th April 2012.

A good laugh.
Based on the same 1950s best-seller that spawned the original film and numerous spin-offs, this Doctor in the House is done as a play within a play. As such it’s introduced front of curtain by a nervous Stage Manager (Andrew Fettes) and Tony Grimsdyke, played by Joe Pasquale, complete with big glasses and silly squeaky voice.

To graft Pasquale, complete with his usual persona, onto an established fifties romp is a bold move but it works – he’s very funny. During scene changes Pasquale even goes in for some pantomimic repartee with a member of the audience.
Implausibly, absolutely everything including the Sir Lancelot argy-bargy, happens in a well observed student flat, which comes minus the traffic cone but complete with a purloined policeman’s helmet hanging up.

To set the play in its original decade is of course very wise: the deference to Sir Lancelot Spratt and Matron (a proper one, in a uniform) wouldn’t make sense nowadays. Nor would the imperative to get spliced, or the awkward courtship caper – the scene where plain-jane Janet (Rachel Baynton) tries to entrap Simon Sparrow (Phillip Langhorne) into marriage is one of the best in the play.

Costumes, which are basically period, slightly spill forward into the sixties – for instance, Bromley’s shorty raincoat; and a lot of the interval music (Sandy Powell singing The Laughing Policeman?) is anachronistic.

Wisely, the actors don’t try for impressions from film or off-shoots. Nevertheless, good as Robert Powell is as Sir Lancelot, folk in middle-age and beyond might miss James Robertson Justice in the part. But we get that famous gag – “You boy, what’s the bleeding time?” To which Sparrow replies “Half past six Sir”.

Emma Barton, as watch-worthy Vera, gives an excellent performance. Allison Mckenzie, even granting that she’s a blonde Australian caricature with a voice like a down-market dingo and bright-red cheeks, over-does Ozzy.

This is a very good laugh.

Tony Grimsdyke: Joe Pasquale.
Sir Lancelot: Robert Powell.
Vera: Emma Barton.
Matron: Gay Soper.
Janet: Rachel Baynton.
John: Tom Butcher.
Bromley: Peter Dunwell.
Simon: Phillip Langhorne.
Ozzy: Allison McKenzie.
Stage Manager: Andrew Fettes.
Understudy: Charlotte Sutherland.
Understudy: Philip Andrew.

Director: Ian Talbot.
Designer: Paul Farnsworth.
Lighting Designer: Jason Taylor.

2012-04-14 16:56:53

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