Richard Gordon and Ted Willis’s 1957 play is revived in adapted form at the Kings this week on a stunning set and by a very talented cast.
However – one can’t help by wonder why.
The programme describes the play as ‘classic’ – a much over-used and under-considered word these days – but it’s only a string of fairly weak comedic set-pieces, none of which produce the belly-laughs they once might.
Joe Pasquale is miscast as Tony Grimsdyke. His character must be no more than 35 – and Pasquale is clearly past that sell-by date. His voice is also not up to the task with poor diction and volume. But his ability to connect with an audience carries him through and while his ad-libs grate against the period dialogue, the audience clearly loved him.
Robert Powell sees off all memories of James Robertson-Justice. His Sir Lancelot is more character than caricature - given the strictures of the script – and mighty fine.
There’s excellent playing from Emma Barton (particularly) and Phillip Langhorne, too.
But wonderful Gay Soper – an actress who’s contributed so much to British theatre – is top of the pile, here. Her Matron would make Hattie Jacques quail.