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Amelia Swan

★ ★ ★ ★

Caroline Jay Ranger Directs and Choreographs Her Cast to Create a Classically Funny Farce.

The Comedy Theatre last night was filled with a light-hearted expectancy at the Melbourne opening performance of John Cleese’s reworking of his and Connie Boothe’s cult TV comedy. It was met with great satisfaction from the crowd, who laughed from beginning (literally as each characters very entrance was greeted with applause) to the uproarious end.

Cleese describes in the program that his process of turning three of his favourite episodes, The Salesman, The Rat and The Germans, into a theatre play, last January as one of ease. It is immediately a delight to see how well suited the pithy one-liners, physical gags and well-drawn characters of the original TV sitcom are to adaptation to the stage in the seamless farce that is the product of his endeavours. Caroline Jay Ranger directs and choreographs her cast to create a classically funny farce which harks back to the stage larking days of Oscar Wilde and Noel Coward, in its dependably excellent script and whipping comic timing.

Set over two days in the life of the Torquay hotel, the audience is immediately swept back into the frumpy neo-Victorian foyer of the hotel by a wonderful old fashioned stage set, by Liz Ashcroft, faithfully copied from the TV show with no detail missing. Like a huge dolls house interior, the moose head, the wall paper, an upstairs bedroom and the swinging double doors of the dining room create an illusion that one is transported back to 1975.

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