“Farce is a type of comedy that places exaggerated characters in improbable situations where they face a number of outrageous obstacles. Farce has been around since the days of Aristophanes.” I think he would have loved this one with its added touch of absurdist theatre.
We are in Paris in the seventeenth century, things were different then. The Marquis de Langley has just married the very pretty, young Marie Sant-Simon. But before we meet them the extraordinary tone of the evening is set by an extraordinary quintet playing some extraordinary music with the musicians making extraordinary faces at us! But no it’s not a quintet- the sixth member of the band struggles in through the door of the theatre with a very large double bass in a case. He has great difficulty opening the case then finds it empty. He finds his instrument leaning against the wall, takes it and joins in the playing and we’re off, we’re laughing loudly, all clowns together.
They clear the stage. There is an elegantly panelled white wall full of all the fast opening doors and windows this sort of show demands. It also demands some high-spirited performers. The spirits are high and the lively ensemble totally engaging.
The pressure is on, Granddad, a bewildered and delightful Ted Lishman along with Marie’s aunt, hilarious and commanding acting from Hannah McPake, demand an heir be produced immediately.
But it does not happen, the whole thing’s a bit of a “Flop.’
It seems the Marquis, a lovable, deadpan and very confused Iain Gibbons, a perfectly judged performance of quiet hilarity, isn’t up to the demands of the job. Seems he’s a bit of a ‘Flop”. Chaos reins and the dour valet David, fine querulousness and silent comment from Jonathon Pugh, continues to carry a lot of small suitcases around.
The success of this show explodes from the dynamism of all the performers. They dash in and out of doors; climb through windows. The fast ever-adjusting set is a character in its own right! Jess Mabel Jones as the young, pretty, non-pregnant wife is a real joy; she has a wonderful wide smile and flashing telling eyes that seduces us all. All that is except for her ever befuddled husband. He’s a lovely chap but he’s not fitting in very well here.
Mayhem and madness continue until he is put on trial for his reproductive failings. Hannah McPake’s ridiculous judge once again proves what a consummate actor she is. Not sure what the outcome of the trial was. I don’t think anyone, on the stage or in the audience knew!
Ted Lishman does a neat character change and becomes a midwife, checking to see if any mistakes have been made. He can only find apples and tins of beans, not too many.
The very tall and poker faced court warden is given an ‘exciting’ performance by Adam C Webb but only when he succeeds in getting his very tall chef’s hat through the door. It’s all massive fun. Director Ben Pettitt-Wade drives things along well. If he cracks the whip and goes at an even quicker pace he could have another success in Edinburgh.
Chiara Strazzulla review The Flop: New Voice review: The Flop, Hijinx