by Anthony Marriott and Alister Foot
RICHMOND PLAYERS INC.
REVIEW : ABSOLUTE THEATRE, with Eric Scott.
Put the word ‘sex’ in the title of any production and you are sure to get a full house. And so, the good people of the Hawkesbury turned out in droves last Saturday for the opening night of No Sex Please – We’re British.
Written by Anthony Marriott and Alistair Foot, the story is set in the loungeroom of a small flat rented above a bank by newlyweds, Peter and Frances Hunter. Peter works downstairs in the bank and has just informed Frances that his mother will arrive to visit and may want to stay overnight.
‘Mother’ Eleanor arrives sooner than expected much to Frances’ annoyance. Also dropping by is the banks bumbling cashier, Brian Runnicles who Frances allows to collect a delivery at the door. Could this be the Scandinavian glassware that Frances has ordered? Of course not. Upon opening the box, Brian and Frances discover an assortment of photographs of women, all over-exposed (not in the photographic sense).
Peter is soon involved in the plan to prevent Eleanor from discovering the pictures and they take steps to get rid of them, including a botched attempt at flushing them down the toilet. Following a mix up in bank cheques, the pornographers subsequently send more confronting material in film and book form two days later.
Amidst all this embarrassing turmoil for Peter and Frances is a blossoming romance between Eleanor and Bank Manager Leslie Bromhead; an unexpected overnight visit from the Bank Inspector Arnold Needham; two prostitutes looking to please; and a Police Superintendent Paul who is keeping a watchful eye on the suspicious activities occurring in the flat.
The storyline is largely contrived and exaggerated nonsense, however that is secondary to the countless comical scenes and situations that the characters encounter. Director Carol Wimmer has utilised every technique available to maximise laughs right through the play. There are props aplenty, slapstick, compromising positions, great facial expressions, and perfect timing on line delivery.
The audience was having a ball. There was much laughter and smiles throughout the theatre, confirming success for cast and crew.
Every part was well-cast and each actor gave their all. Joel Baltaks as Peter Hunter was the ideal straight man, able to remain poker faced whilst mayhem was all around. Similarly, Heloise Tolar as Frances Hunter played the victim housewife perfectly, providing stability amid chaotic circumstances.
Brian Runnicles, the busy body bank cashier was played by Mark Massingham. He relished this role and hammed it up to the full extent. Penny Johnson played the interfering mother-in-law Eleanor Hunter very well.
Plenty of laughs came from the performances of John Courtney as Leslie Bromhead, Sean Duff as Superintendent Paul and Michael Niccol as Arnold Needham. Chantelle Bauer as Susan and Suzannah Mangan as Barbara gave just the right amount of scintillation as the ‘ladies of the night’.
The hard work of the creative team was clearly evident, especially Set Designer Steve Wimmer and Costumes Dianne McKenzie. The set was spacious, bright colourful and finely detailed. Costumes were all character-appropriate and fortunately, scant (where required).
No Sex Please – We’re British is a fun-filled farce, born in the days when British sit-coms ruled Australian TV screens. There are lots of double-meanings, innuendo’s, door-banging and running around. You need to pay attention as it moves quickly from scene two onwards.
I recommend trying to see the ‘dinner-show’ version at the historic School of Arts. Food was of good quality, service was efficiently handled, and with a little bit of lubrication, the script has more depth. This show will deliver if you seek light-hearted fun, bawdy gags and a talented cast and crew. Go s