Fast, furious and funny

Run For Your Wife by Ray Cooney at Colchester Mercury until Saturday.It has all the subtlety of a McGill seaside postcard, is blissfully un-politically correct and allows us to laugh delightedly at a bit of old-fashioned farce, something we were beginning to fear might have disappeared for good.

Run For Your Wife by Ray Cooney at Colchester Mercury until Saturday.

IT has all the subtlety of a McGill seaside postcard, is blissfully un-politically correct and allows us to laugh delightedly at a bit of old-fashioned farce, something we were beginning to fear might have disappeared for good.

It's an absolute hoot of a show that gets the laughs going gently at first and then builds up a hilarious head of steam as one crazy scene follows another. We are asked to suspend our belief in impossible ways and we do it willingly because it is just so enjoyable.

John Smith is a London taxi driver and a pretty ordinary sort of chap in every way, except one - he has two wives: one in Wimbledon, the other a four and a half minute drive away in Streatham. By juggling his shifts, it is a situation he has nourished with some success for three years.


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He is a happy, if somewhat tired bigamist, who runs his double life on a razor-sharp schedule that makes little allowance for sods law, the thing that always comes up and bites you in the backside when you least expect it.

John sees an old lady being robbed, rushes to help her and ends up in hospital - not injured by the muggers but by the old dear who thinks he's one of the gang and clobbers him with her handbag.

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This, of course, brings in the police and the newspapers, who see him as a rescuing hero, and bit by bit his two worlds start to collide. John, played by David Callister, now has a new double mission: to keep the wives apart and keep the law off his tail. He rakes in the help of his lodger Stanley (Melvyn Hayes) and the pair then set off on a rackety line of lies that keep coming back to trip them up, thus requiring a new pack of wild porkies that simply dig them deeper and deeper into the doo-doo.

It has a cracking ending and is played out on a four-door set that works cleverly for John's two love-nests and is a masterclass of timing and little bits of business, especially between Callister and Hayes. But the two frustrated wives, Michelle Morris and Tiffany Graves, the wildly over-the-top upstairs gay of Paul Henry and the two cops, Mark Wingett and Barry Howard, all play vital parts in the laughter-making.

In the best traditions of British farce, trousers do fall and the girls are occasionally slightly deshabille but that's all and there's no bad language. It is a real pleasure to see a cast and an audience having such a good time.

David Henshall.

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