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Out of Order

Michael Shaw and Eliza McClelland in Out of Order at St Edmund's Hall, Southwold Michael Shaw and Eliza McClelland in Out of Order at St Edmund's Hall, Southwold

Farce is a notoriously difficult theatrical genre to get right. The situation has to go from bad to worse before it resolves itself in the dying moments of the play. The danger is that with all the running around and convoluted relationships the actors may leave the audience behind.

Happily for Suffolk Summer Theatre, its cast, having just finished Ayckbourn’s How The Other Half Loves, is suitably warmed up and bring a sure touch to this tale of sex and politics, which started life in the early 1990s as Whose Wife Is It Anyway? Director David Harris ensures the characters always remain believable no matter how farcical the situation becomes.

Set in a Westminster Hotel, cabinet minister Richard Willey is having a clandestine tryst when he should be attending a debate in the Commons. Michael Shaw makes for a very believable cabinet minister, while Chris Clarkson and Rosanna Miles are almost unrecognisable from earlier in the season. One of the joys of traditional rep is that audiences get to see how actors can immerse themselves in different roles.

Maurice Rubens’ clever hotel room set takes on a life of its own and eventually becomes the key protagonist in the play. A balcony window which refuses to stay open helps crank up the tension as Richard Willey’s world unravels.

Deftly performed, the cast keep energy levels high and the absurd nature of the events never becomes an excuse for lots of aimless dashing in- and outdoors.

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Verdict
Westminster sex farce which keeps one foot in the real world
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