Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Where There's a Will - Liverpool Playhouse

Where There's A Will by Georges Feydeau
Adaptor: Nicki Frei
Director: Peter Hall
Reviewer: John Roberts

Farce seems to be going through a revival at the moment, with productions such as Boeing Boeing, God of Carnage etc doing the regional rounds after successful West-End runs, and it may be due to the fact that we are living in credit crunch Britain that this revival of Feydeau's play is given an airing.

When Farce is good, it is really good and has the ability for us to forget all our woes and worries for an hour or two and laugh at the misfortune of the characters that are presented in front of us...unfortunately it wasn't the performance that got my laughter last night, it was the fact that the English Touring Theatre has produced this dire production.

ETT's director Rachel Tackley admits that farce is a departure for the established theatre company but to quote her take on the play 'The breathless speed at which Feydeau catapults his characters from one crisis to the next is beautifully captured.' surely Ms Tackley has seen a different production as the only thing I saw go past was the minute hand of my watch and even that didnt move with breathless speed.

Ribadier is the second husband to Angele, and is having an afair with Madame Savinet (the wine merchants husband) whilst upstairs Sophie the maid is having a secret relationship with Gusman the Stable hand, throw in old acquaintance Thommereux who has travelled back for the Orient to tell Angele how he feels and you could be mistaken for thinking this sounds like the perfect plot for a farce, especially as the fantastic set by Christopher Woods really adds to the anticipation as the large ornate window takes centre stage, and several doors scattered around the perimeter of this amazingly beautiful drawing room box set.

It is with great disappointment that this production falls flat on many levels, first and foremost this show isn't a farce in fact no where near a farce, there was no break neck close shaves, no real door play and the situation of the characters didn't build up to anything that grips the audience to the edge of your seats, in fact what we are given is an overplayed drawing room comedy that with the amount of response and audience awareness made me feel I was watching a pantomime, and one is not sure whether this is the fault of the writing, the direction or both.

With a misplaced and ill timed interval - only 35 minutes in and a very bizarre curtain fall and music to show a time lapse in the second half (which should have really been the interval) and you start to really get the feeling that this show has been misjudged from the off, the cast really do try and pick up the energy but things really did feel flat until the presence of Tony Garnder as Thommereux, tried pulling all the stops to gain a laugh or two, notable also for her comic timing and occasional lines was Nelly Harker as Maid Sophie, but the downfall of the writing is not enough of the script is given over to Spohie and Gusmans story in fact they seem to be there as an end to a very tired plot.

ETT has been producing some amazing productions recently including the fantastic Entertaining Mr Sloane in London, but this production fails to entertain on more than one level, a huge disappointment.

Where There's a Will runs at the Liverpool Playhouse until Saturday 4th April 2009
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