Belly laughs abound in Society’s bedroom farce

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CAUGHT LIVE

WOMBWELL Thespians Amateur Dramatic Society: Move over Mrs Markham

WOMBWELL’S theatregoers were treated to a glorious romp back to the 1970s thanks to the Thespians side-splitting production of Ray Cooney and John Chapman’s bedroom farce.

Move over Mrs Markham was a great choice for the group’s Spring performance, with some excellent comedy casting.

Children’s book publishers and Swinging couple, Linda and Henry Lodge, have simultaneously set their sights on using their business partners Philip and Joanna Markham’s flat for some extra marital hanky-panky behind each of their partners’ backs.

Their more straight-laced friends foolishly agree and the evening is set for mayhem. Shoe-horning what becomes four one-night stands into one bedroom is a tall order.

This tale of multiple married infidelity mushrooms into a tangled web of misunderstandings as the characters lie themselves into a corner and out again.

Camping it up to his elbow as the effeminate interior designer Spenlow, is Andy Cooke, who ironically is trying his best to bed the maid Sylvie (Rachel Howarth).

Linda Lodge (Sue Dalton) loses part of a love letter from her planned paramour, the lecherous Walter Pangbourne (Ian Cartwright), setting the scene for shenanigans when it is found by uptight husband Philip Markham (Garry Haddington).

There is some superb interplay as each character becomes paired off.

Gary Haddington’s facial expressions are a joy to behold as he juggles the belief that his interior designer is gay – with the uncomfortable thought that he is being cuckolded by one and the same.

Andy Cooke’s bemused character is essential to holding together the increasingly flimsy web of deception.

Bedroom scenes involving the scantily clad Joanna (Deborah White) and Miss Wilkinson (Andrea Conway) are a welcome saucy bonus. Christine Parker’s production keeps the momentum going throughout.

The stage split between the Markham’s bedroom and the adjoining flat, with exit doors to the kitchen and office allowed fancymen and floozies to enter and exit at inopportune comedy moments.

What is at first sight a straight forward play is deceptively complicated to carry off.

The arrival of Olive Harriet Smythe, (Sue Wilkie) a puritannical authoress of children’s books puts the cat amongst the pigeons.

The frantic efforts of the Markhams to hide the amorous goings-on and, at the same time sign up Miss Smythe leads to a Fawlty Towers-esq finale putting everyone at cross–purposes.

There was a tiny spot of prompting, but this was the first night performance of a hectic and hilarious evening.

– Kevin Rogers