Caught in the Net
November 14 to 23
eventfinder (on line)
Cor blimey, the crazy madcap crew are back in action at the Shambles.
It's some years since the theatre brought us Ray Cooney's Run For Your Wife, now it's serving up its sequel Caught in the Net, and it's every bit as belly laugh-inducing as its predecessor.
What a pleasure to see Alasdair Hay reprising the role of bigamist London cabbie, John Smith.
It was Hay who, in his off-stage life as a teacher, was assaulted while on school traffic patrol earlier this year. The head injury that resulted left him off work and off stage for months, but he's returned with renewed vim and vigour.
Playing the rarely off stage Smith is a huge ask of any actor, but particularly one in brain recovery mode. Hay's bounced into playing Smith's double life, honing its complexities to perfection.
He's the only one of the original cast to have made the transition to take two of the Smith families' saga,
Playing the hard-pressed lodger, Stanley Gardner, at one of the philanderer's homes Ian Stabler's classic gold.
His 'telephone tango' with its gobbledygook speak defies description.
Surely he must have left more sweat on the boards than his body's capable of replacing? It dripped off him as he raced from door to door on the set seamlessly depicting Smith's south London homes as he endeavoured to keep the two families apart.
And herein lies the show's plot – Smith's children, now teenagers, have met online.
Wimbledon daughter Vicki (drama student Kira Lees) and Stretham son, Gavin (Ashton Kusabs) are hell bent on a face-to-face encounter, Smith's adamant they won't and can't meet.
Their mums, Mary (Rachel Bell) and Barbara (Helen English), can't see why not.
When Stan's befuddled dad (the always hilarious Leigh Taylor) pitches up believing he's at a beachside hotel, the confusion over why the teens can't keep their internet-scheduled rendezvous, ramps up.
There's non-stop action as each player becomes more and more entangled in the marital and familial web Smith's woven.
Far be it for this reviewer to spoil the denouement where Smith's forced to reveal his duplicity to wives plural.
With the season to be jolly upon us go to the Shambles and find out for yourselves – this is as jolly a jape as you'll be likely to find for many a day.
And it comes with a huge pat on the back for director, Mike Long, for stitching this together to make it the unqualified success it is.