Review: Not Now Darling, by Ray Cooney and John Chapman, Suffolk Summer Theatres

Not Now Darling by Ray Cooney & John Chapman, Southwold Summer Theatre, (left to right) Imogen Slau

Not Now Darling by Ray Cooney & John Chapman, Southwold Summer Theatre, (left to right) Imogen Slaughter, Louise Best and Iain Ridley - Credit: Archant

Not Now Darling, by Ray Cooney and John Chapman, Suffolk Summer Theatres, St Edmunds Hall, Southwold until August 17 and Jubilee Hall, Aldeburgh, August 20–24

If written today, this 1960s farce would have no hope of making it to the West End or to Broadway (as it did then), because it is just about as politically incorrect as you could imagine.

The trouble is that while the theme is woman as sex object and the setting is a fashion shop specialising in animal furs the plot is so cleverly written and this production so slick that laughs just cannot be stifled.

So, to enjoy this scintillating piece of drama, arch feminists and anti fur campaigners just might have to lighten up a bit, accept the script is “of its time” and just lay back and think of the sheer brilliance of the writing and the acting.

For director, Richard Frost, and his ten-strong cast have created a high energy romp which lacks little in pace and comic timing.


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Indeed, by the end of its run this production should – judging by the standard achieved on the opening night – be absolutely electric.

Michael Shaw and Iain Ridley lead the charge as the shop’s directors - Gilbert Bodley, the womanising schemer, and Arnold Crouch, sexually naïve and a man willing to run a mile to avoid scandal.

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In fact he has to run a marathon under protest in this play to prevent his partner’s intrigues being exposed.

Needless to say for a farce written more than 50 years ago, scantily clad women play prominent roles and everyone is eventually caught up in marital deception.

It is a real team effort and there is a delightful cameo played by Jill Freud who ran the summer theatre at Southwold from 1984 before stepping down from a management role last year.

Leave your thinking cap at home and settle down for an evening of adulterated pleasure.

David Green

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