Wednesday, 29 April 2009

A Merry Night at the Menier

I'm just back from a great night out courtesy of CB.

I haven't been to the Menier Chocolate Factory before, so was thrilled to get an invite, particularly to a press night.

First, we dined like 2-4-1 queens at the Pizza Express near the Globe overlooking the Thames, with lovely views of a sunny London evening, happy tourists, girly catch-ups and so on. Lots of nice chat, putting our little worlds to rights, swapping house-buying notes and examining that odd good/bad feeling of getting older (and possibly slightly wiser?), together.

Then we went on to the Menier, to see Rookery Nook. CB warned me that the WEW review hadn't been favourable.

It's a farce. That's almost all you need to know. Scantily clad girls, put-upon husbands, cheeky lads, overbearing wives, staff, secrets, hinted-at sex and innuendo. That's all. Put all the ingredients into an old, well-worn pot, and heat until you hear laughter.

There were some great one-liners, ace comic timing, lots of slamming doors and one of those classic country house sets with multiple exits and a window that reminded me of when the teachers at school used to do Jeeves and Wooster...

True, the cast were all spot-on. Neil Stuke, who played the hapless lead, Gerald, I finally realise I know from the awful and brilliant Game On (although he's been in lots besides). I really enjoyed the slimy cousin Clive, played by Edward Baker-Duly: a name that makes you wonder why playwrights bother. Something about him reminded me of 100 other things: old films, Blackadder / Richard Curtis-style humour, plays at school, moments from the LUDS years. Sweet, sweet nostalgia.

CB and WEW were both impressed with Mark Hadfield; as was I, although he perhaps had fewer chances to shine than the other two guys, and reminded me too much of a certain BJT from LUDS at uni...

And the girls were great too: there was Nurse Gladys Emanuel from Open All Hours (thanks WEW), a lovely turn from Sarah Woodward, and a brilliant slightly cameoish part played by Victoria Yeates, who gets to wear great 1920s underwear, and slap her own arse with pleasure.

I'll be interested to know how it does, to be honest. It classy and clever, but over-long and really lacking in anything suggesting originality. We'll see...

Lots of top theatre criticy people were there. The Billington, an older woman I seem to see at everything, the guy from theatreonline (or some such), and happily, my new "friend" Nick Curtis, of the Evening Standard.

In a string of conincidences akin to some of those on stage, it turns out Nick knows CB's cousin, they both attended said cousin's wedding, he's standing in for De Jongh doing some theatrey stuff at the moment, and, like us, he did the magazine course at Cardiff! (Many years ago, he was keen to add). And he seems lovely. He was gracious enough to listen while I babbled in semi-awe AND he gave me his business card.

This being a night of awkward farce (something I can excel in), I was, of course, completely unable to locate a copy of mine in return.


His review is great; I particularly like the last para:
Best not to look too closely at the plot, much less the sexual politics. Travers takes delight in linguistic and romantic confusion, and absurdity for its own sake. Most people will be glad that they really don’t make ’em like this any more. But the clockwork meticulousness and rollicking impetus of Johnson’s revival makes me glad, too, that they did, once upon a time.
Great stuff, and a fab night out.

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