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A Fistful of Collars at Royal Court, Liverpool – ‘a raucous farce’

Scene from A Fistful of Collars at Royal Court, Liverpool. Photo: Ian Bond
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First produced at the Royal Court in 2010, A Fistful of Collars is one of the earliest of the theatre’s collaborations with writer Fred Lawless, taking a witty title and extrapolating backwards to a create a raucous farce. Call it a formula if you will, but it’s one that fills houses and draws a loyal audience.

The staff of a run-down dry cleaner are panicking about their dodgy landlord’s frequent rent increases and decide to masquerade as a high class dress-cleaning service, while renting out the expensive frocks to raise extra cash. Nothing could possibly go wrong, that is until a special constable and Coleen Rooney come knocking at alternate doors, and the chloroform comes out.

The tight-knit cast, many from the original production, has huge fun with the play, and they have tightened up the piece under Bob Eaton’s direction and Lawless’s supervision. There is a rather slow start and one very awkward scene change early on, but the first half builds to a strong climax, and in the second act the comedy is relentless.

Lindzi Germain channels Peggy Mount with her harridan supervisor Pat, and Eithne Browne is a wonderful foil as Eileen, the manager. Lenny Wood has great comedic charm as the shop assistant Billy, a mathematical genius who is otherwise useless, his face achieving some improbable contortions. Alan Stocks displays immaculate comic timing as special constable Johnson and his portrayal of a man whirling round in a tumble drier is priceless.

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Traditional farce meets summer panto in this revamped Fred Lawless comedy