There is still plenty of comedy mileage in this farce written by two masters of the genre, Ray Cooney and John Chapman.
Not Now Darling first saw the light of day just over 50 years ago with Donald Sinden and Bernard Cribbins in the leading roles.
True, the sight of scantily-dressed young ladies being hidden in the showroom of their West End Fur Salon by the ever-amorous Gilbert Bodley and his hapless partner Arnold Crouch does not have the same shock effect that it had in 1967, but played at a breakneck speed, there is plenty of fun still to be had.
No one could accuse director Bruce James and his cast of being short of pace. , as the audience walked out for their interval drinks there were, amongst some of them, distinct signs of ‘Phew I need time to rest and recover’. It would have been even better had the very popular Damian Williams, as the wandering-eyed Gilbert, been a little subtler with more of the dialogue instead of hammering so many lines as if to underline their importance.
Despite this, his proportion of laughs per line was, as usual, very impressive. When he and the ever willing Philip Meeks, in the role of his partner Arnold, combined in comic business there were some vintage farce moments.
Holly Easterbrook and Jessica Day provided the glamour required from the two young ladies whose clothes continually disappeared, but it was Grace Alexander-Scott as the primly-dressed secretary Miss Tipdale who stole the acting award playing the ‘straight man’ with style. When it came to stylish performances there were none better on show than Sarah Whitlock and Richard Colson who made the stock characters of Commander and Mrs Frencham more than just acceptable.
The fact that a cast of 11 is required, and the cost that goes with that, has put more than one company off presenting this play.
So it was nice to find the Bruce James company having enough faith in the support of local theatre goers to cover the cost of presenting this good vintage farce, while at the same time bringing together a team of players willing to work hard as an ensemble, something essential to its success. of any farcical comedy.