‘Never Kiss A Naughty Nanny’ is a classic comedy – farce, written in 2006 by Michael Parker. As a young boy in the UK, Parker received a ‘Best Actor of the Year’ award for his part in ‘The Winslow Boy’. After 5 years at Sandhurst Military College, he emigrated to Canada. Ten years later, after owning an office temp business, he retired at the age of only 35 to the Caribbean. He started writing plays, but realised that the American humour did not embrace his English farces, so he adapted them to suit their wit, writing a play every couple of years.
This two-hour presentation of chuckles by the Rockingham Theatre Company can be seen at the pleasant ‘Castle Theatre’, 8 Attwood Way, Rockingham on Friday and Saturday evenings at 8.00 until 16th May. There is one matinee at 2.00 pm on Sunday 10th May.
In the script, it is the present day in Wisconsin, but thankfully, the cast do not have American accents. For this production, I think the location could be London in the middle of a severe winter.
The set is the lounge of an ultramodern house, where the TV control also activates numerous unreliable gadgets in the home. The very ‘active’ set design is by Larraine Craig and David Heckingbottom, and built by the cast, along with Ian Spencer, Nancy Soroka, Terry Winter and the back stage crew of Callon Leam, Tegan Joyce and Danny Joyce.
The stage manager had a myriad of effects to setup, which coupled with the numerous sound and lighting effects (Callum Leam and Shelley Smith) added greatly to the zany humour of the play. The unfortunate costume seamstress, Lara Hall, must be kept busy each night after the show reassembling various garments.
With an arrival like that of a genie in a pantomime, brash and outspoken home developer, Mr. Broadbent (Mike Murphy) arrives at his ‘House of the Future’. A home that he built four years ago, but is having trouble selling as many of the gadgets – such as the automatic closet – require adjustment, or simply do not work. With $300,000 tied up in these gadgets, Broadbent is desperate to sell.
At last, hen-pecked Fred (Rob Walker) and haughty, domineering, Gladys McNicoll (Alison Gibson) are showing interest – well Gladys is, as poor, long suffering Fred is not allowed to think or have opinions.
Broadbent invites them to stay in the house for a weekend, and to ensure that the sale goes smoothly he has enlisted his proficient and ingenious secretary, Casey (Natasha Birch) to make the couple feel at home. The young, honest but soon to become very confused, real estate agent, Ben (Lee Walker) demonstrates the house’s many gimmicks, and presses them to buy.
The crotchety and blunt hypochondriac, Mr Cott (Pete Scarrott) is the technician that fitted the technology, and is called back by Broadbent to fine-tune the equipment. The developer thinks some tasty food might soften the potential buyers, so he fills the fridge and hires the loveable, but accident prone, Sue (Beth Haigh) who has just qualified as a chef.
As the snow outside becomes deeper, Walter Brooks (Danny Joyce), Casey’s insufferable, future father-in-law gets snowed up and arrives at the house looking for shelter.
Disaster follows disaster.
Director Larraine Craig has had oodles of experience both as an actor and director. She can come up with some brilliant ideas and characterisation, but even so, there was a patch in the first Act where the cast had trouble melding and getting up the pace. However, very soon the belly laughs and guffaws that we are accustomed to at The Castle were flowing freely.
The highlights were Ben being fed cake, and the uppity Gladys having a conversation on the couch but totally missing the point.
Body and soul went into the performances; enhanced by both the clever visual gadgets and the guaranteed farcical states of undress. Good teamwork. Another winner for Rockingham.
Another huge success for The Castle. A quick survey showed that a third of the audience were first time visitors. Not surprisingly, their next show in August has almost sold out! How many companies can say that? Well done once again.