‘See How They Run’ reviewed by Gordon the Optom

by February 13, 2016

‘See How They Run’ is typical British farce, written in 1949 by Philip King, who was much admired for his complex plots. Not surprisingly after almost 70 years, the dialogue of this play is showing a little age.

This production is being presented in the smart, newly refurbished, Garrick Theatre in Guildford. The seating and visual lines are much improved, and the lighting units gradually changing to the new LEDs. When the pre-show announcement was made, it was barely audible, so perhaps the speakers may be next on the list.

Always a very warm welcome at the Garrick.

The 2-hour farce runs until Saturday 13th February, with a show each evening at 8.00 pm.

 

The scene is around 1945, in the sitting room of a vicarage in Merton-cum-Middlewick, southern England.

The rear wall has patio doors leading to the back garden, with a staircase at the side, heading up to the bedrooms, and of course the variety of doors around the room, a necessity for prime, farce confusion. The set was well built (Fred Petersen, Malcolm Brand and Clayton Reichert) with a convincing post war appearance.

Geoff Holt, aided by Fiona Forster, did a splendid job of the light design and sound control.

 

     The loveable but dippy maid, Ida (Jenny Trestrail) is laying the tea trolley for the vicar’s frivolous, young, fun-loving wife, Penelope (Jennifer Bowman) and her afternoon guest, the miserable, Bible thumping, Miss Skillon (Marsha Holt), who has a monastic outlook on life. When the Reverend Toop (Simon Magill) arrives home, she tackles him on a sensitive topic.

     Later, When Penelope is alone in the house, an old boyfriend, Clive (Timothy Presant) from her days at an acting school, turns up. He is wearing a Lance Corporal uniform, and is trying to have a night out of the local army camp before Sergeant Towers (Graham Miles) spots that he is missing. As they light-heartedly recall and re-enact a couple of their fun productions, Miss Skillon returns and catches the couple in an embarrassing situation.

      As Miss Skillon tells of her horror, an intruder (Patrick Irwin) breaks into the house. At the same time, Penelope’s uncle, the Bishop of Lax (John Lobb) and the locum minister, Rev Humphrey (John Forde) also arrive. With so many religious vestments being worn, no one is too sure who is who any more.

 

Although the script was tired, the ingenious direction of Lynne Devenish and the performances of her well-tuned cast, the action was well paced and zany throughout. The three women actors were outstanding, and the men well above average. They all captured the style of a good farce perfectly, and kept the tempo belting along.

Catch it before the season ends.