London Classic Theatre
Theatr Clwyd, Mold
May 24-28, 2022; 1hr 50min
Set in Paris in 1962, Marc Camoletti’s play is a delightfully fraught farce about Bernard, (John Dorney), a successful architect with a complex love-life that revolves, unusually, around a highly-organised diary and airline schedules.
That is because he has three fiancees – Gloria, (Isabel Della-Porta), Gabriella (Nathalie Barclay), and Gretchen (Jessica Dennis), all of whom are flight attendants (or back then, stewardesses) for different airlines, with different schedules, and with the help of his maid Bertha (Jo Castleton), all three are blissfully unaware of each other.
Well, until life gets in the way. The arrival of old friend Robert (Paul Sandys), the launch of a new, super-fast jet and the intervention of the weather help Bernard’s high-precision plans to descend into chaos.
Farce treats the improbable as probable and the impossible as possible, renowned American tutor George Pierce Baker once said, and Camoletti’s script sets up his farce beautifully, offering an ideal scenario for Bernard's sexual escapades then carefully pulling his world apart. We laugh as he suffers...
London Classic Theatre, now a national treasure with its careful reproductions of otherwise little-seen modern classics, gets under the skin of the farce well, with great comic timing and some lovely, deadpan one-liners, especially from Jo Castleton. There is a nicely-judged descent from calm and control to panic and near-hysteria as Bernard attempts to keep all three fiancees apart – while all are in the flat at the same time. And as with all good farces, all’s well that ends well.
This play has a 60-year history and has been enjoyed thousands of times, so to do it justice with all we now believe about equality and the representation of women (and men, for that matter), on stage is quite ambitious, and could be difficult to pull off well. But in keeping with recent productions, London Classic rises to the challenge, keeping the audience engaged and offering a genuine feelgood factor.
If there is a moral to be had from this tale, it would be to keep it simple or life will catch you out. But where would farce be then?
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