There’s a very good reason why No Sex Please, We’re British had a 17 year run, before packed houses, in London’s West End.
It’s simply, (and outrageously!) hilarious.
Upper Canada Playhouse artistic director Donnie Bowes was certain this classic comedy by Alistair Foot and Anthony Marriott, would “cause the parking lot to overflow.” Judging by the exuberance of the 10 man cast, and the enthusiasm of director Richard Bauer, he is probably right. Tickets are already springing off the shelves at the box office.
No Sex Please, We’re British, debuts on the Playhouse stage on August 1, and runs until August 25.
Richard Bauer, who is directing this show for the Playhouse, is no stranger to theatre audiences. He has appeared in several productions as an actor, and in more recent years, has directed a number of comedies, including last season’s hit, Wife Begins At Forty.
“No Sex is a wonderful farce,” Bauer said, at the recent press conference. “I first did it as an actor 25 years ago, and now I’ve graduated to directing it. It’s typical of many farces. The comedy develops out of a moment when ordinary life goes terribly wrong, and the characters simply get caught up.”
The comedy is firmly set in the 1960s, the era for which it was written, and focuses on Peter and Frances Hunter, newly married, and living over the bank where Peter works. She is hoping to start a comfortable little mail order business from their living room. Something to do with nice, family glass ware.
“But instead of glass,” Bauer laughed, “erotica starts arriving at their flat by the boxload.”
The comedy escalates as the young couple (newly wed husband and wife in real life, Katie Lawson and Derek Moran) attempt to cope, secretly, with an apparently ceaseless flood of erotic material. Ultimately the situation takes a u-turn into hilarious madness. In short order, a bank examiner and bank supervisor, inquisitive, if plodding, police officers, some unexpected ‘ladies’ whose intentions are unclear, a well-meaning bank clerk friend and, most fearsome of all, Peter’s mother-in-law, Eleanor (played by Linda Goranson, who likens her character to Keeping Up Appearances’ Hyacinth Bucket) land in the Hunter home.
“There’s lot of action in this farce, continuous action,” laughed Bauer. “I would say there is just as much comedy back stage at times with this play too. Melissa, Justine and Jocelyn (crew members) are coping with the timing, the revolving props and shoving actors out on stage on cue.”
“It’s timing, timing, timing in a farce,” said newcomer to UCP, Jackie English, who plays one of the mysterious ladies. “And in this play there are so many surprises. The stakes just keep going up.”
“There’s not just one big revelation in this show,” Derek Moran added. “There’s a hundred big reveals.”
Because farce demands stamina and agility from the cast, blocking has to be thoroughly worked out. Actor Katie Leamen admitted that she’d already gone flying when she rounded the sofa a little too quickly (“In Go Go Boots, yet!”) in rehearsal. But, “this is a wonderful cast,” said Bauer, “and we’ll make sure everyone can be seen, that no one crashes into anything and that an actor can actually make it from one side of the set to the other in 30 seconds flat.”
Brian Young, well known to local theatre goers, said “It’s true that farce makes big demands, but it also gives actors a lot of energy. It’s fun.”
Veteran actor Walter Learning is returning for his ninth production at the Playhouse. “I may soon get it right,” he laughed, then added that there is “lots of energy here, and a great environment. Audiences are wonderful.”
Katie Lawson, also a returnee to the Playhouse, remarked that “it’s great to come here to Upper Canada, to enjoy being in such an hilarious comedy. It’s good to hear audiences laugh.”
And Shaun Clark, who first stepped on to the stage in Seduced by Moonlight, in the original Toothbrush Factory some 20 years ago, feels like he’s come “full circle.”
Director Bauer is confident the cast dynamics, the hilarity of the script, and the wonderful set built for the production will ensure a rollicking good time for all as No Sex Please, We’re British prepares to open August 1.
“It’s great to be working with wonderful old friends and with exciting new actors in this production. What a strong mix!”
For tickets to No Sex Please, We’re British, contact Upper Canada Playhouse in Morrisburg at 613-543-3713 or go to uppercanadaplayhouse.com.