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Sunday, 27 June 2010

Theatre - Charley's Aunt - Royal Exchange

Star rating – 9/10

This hilarious production, directed by Braham Murray, of the ever popular farce, Charley’s Aunt, at the Royal Exchange is the funniest thing I have seen at the theatre all year. I recall a very funny version I saw as a twelve year old in 1976 at the Young Vic with Nicky Henson as the impostor aunt on that occasion, so this new adaptation had a lot to live up to for me. And I am pleased to report that it delivers in spades.

The basic plot line of Brandon Thomas’s play, successfully delighting audiences since its first performance in 1892, is that Oxford undergraduates Charley Wykeham and Jack Chesney are in love respectively with Amy and Kitty, but according to the social niceties of the time, cannot arrange to meet them to declare their undying affection before they leave for a family holiday in Scotland the next day without a female chaperone. So when Charley’s long lost aunt telegrams to say she is arriving from Brazil to meet her nephew for the first time, they think that their luck is in, and promptly arrange a lunch to which the girls are invited, and only too happy to accept.

But the course of true love or farce never runs smooth, and so when the aunt is delayed on business for a few days, the young men trick their friend, Lord Fancourt Babberley, into dressing up as the aunt to make sure that the rendezvous can still take place. And then of course, the real aunt duly arrives to add to the mix.

The whole cast are excellent, but Oliver Gomm is absolutely superb as Lord Fancourt Babberley when disguised as the aunt. He is side splittingly funny from start to finish, and has the audience eating out of the palm of his hand. The piano playing scene was my particular favourite. I wish I could bottle up this mirth for when I am feeling a bit down. This is a comedy triumph for the Royal Exchange – and an excellent way to end was has been a truly exceptional season – thanks to one and all – and especially to the wonderful Mr. Gomm. Definitely a star in the making.

1 comment:

  1. Charley's Aunt? Hilarious? Exceptional? Is this just an 'over the top' review? Absolutely not - go and see it, it is just brilliant!!! A.