The play is set in the English county house of the Bliss family, whose quirks and eccentric nature are put in full public view when they each invite a guest to stay for the weekend.
Though we struggled through the overwhelming opening, an entertaining second act was a welcome counterbalance, and ultimately closed out the production to amiable applause.
Before the interval, the play drags through endless introductions, beige scripting and establishes the caricatured character list with often overblown zeal. The comedy of farce and aristocracy struggles to stir a laugh and drags out the predictable process of revealing how each of the Bliss’ invited a guest without the knowledge of the others.
To be perfectly honest, there just aren’t that many funny lines, and often when the comedy is meant to come from the awkward on-stage interactions, it’s instead the discomfort that seeped through to the audience.
After the interval though, having pigeon-holed every member of the cast in their respective personalities, the play was far more enjoyable. The actors were able to play around with their parts instead of having to push to establish themselves with every line.
Ives-Mobia was able to tone down his loud-mouth character and even Sandy was a welcome part of the final acts. Katie Barnett, who had previously seemed absent as Jackie Coryton, delivered some comic one-liners and Hywel Simons particularly impressed as the awkward Richard Greatham. Archer and Boyle continued to stand out.
As the witty writing finally arrived, the laughs came with it from the crowd, and the final moments of the production were really quite fantastic. It’s just a shame that the teething phase of the play lasted almost an hour after opening.
Stuart Kenny 2/5