Who Goes Bare? review

AS THE name suggests, Who Goes Bare by Richard Harris and Leslie Darbon, is a classic farce, full of terrible innuendo and slamming doors. Bruce James Productions, which is touring with the piece, had some initial pacing problems at the Kenneth More Theat

AS THE name suggests, Who Goes Bare by Richard Harris and Leslie Darbon, is a classic farce, full of terrible innuendo and slamming doors.

Bruce James Productions, which is touring with the piece, had some initial pacing problems at the Kenneth More Theatre last week, but when I saw it on Saturday the players had found their timing and - the odd moment of corpsing aside - the piece ran smartly forward, hitting all the old funny bones. The high-speed chases had been very well rehearsed and all the doors slammed exactly as planned.

The action takes place in a shabby health club owned by Eddie Manchip, who is forced to sign away the deeds of the place to pay off his gambling debts.

His exploited staff, who have gone unpaid, abandon him and he discovers that the only hope he has of saving the business is Nancy McSmith, filthy rich and visiting the health club for a "dirty weekend'' with Eddie's brother Brian.


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Nancy is under the misapprehension that the health club is a nudist colony and can't wait to join in the fun ... but then Brian's suspicious wife and Nancy's angry husband turn up, along with an Oxfam volunteer who is looking for donated clothes. The more she collects, the more the nudism quotient rises...

Predictably, the result is chaos, with much racing about and changes of outfit; with the stock of available clothing dwindling, Brian lands up hilariously clad in a BhS bag.

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I am not a great fan of farce, but this piece was performed with such affection, enjoyment - and sheer silliness - that I was won over.

Much of the likeability of this production was down to farce-meister Damian Williams, whose Eddie was a bumbling gem who hilariously appealed to the audience for support when things went wrong (as they inevitably do).

A missed telephone, a dropped moustache, Damian had asides for them all.

I particularly liked the way he ad-libbed "Well, we're having a good time'' as another character succumbed to the giggles.

Andrew Ryan did some good work as the pompous Brian, putting in a wonderful turn as a fake ventriloquist's dummy at one point.

Andrew has an elastic face and eyes that can widen to resemble round blue pools, and he used them to hilarious effect.

I enjoyed Harriet Moran's attractive Nancy, but this performance could have done with being a little more scheming and a little less wide-eyed.

Jacqueline Roberts did very nicely as the uncomprehending, and quite drunk, Joan Manchip.

Neil Bull was highly entertaining in a wide range of roles, from mad professors to a doctor and an artist, and Sarah Whitlock made a splendid Oxfam volunteer (humorously called Mrs Court-Bending). Reed Sinclair was high-octane and villainous as the predatory creditor Mr Butcher.

And Carrie Lawrence ignited a lot of laughter with her funny, stumbling portrayal as the dim-bulb, half-blind masseuse Minnie.

- SUE LEEMAN

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