Rogues & Vagabonds

theatre, film & tv past and present 2001-2008 & 2013…

Archive Review • IN THE CLUB • Hampstead Theatre • 2007

Hampstead Theatre [Wikimedia]

Hampstead Theatre [Wikimedia]

You know exactly what you are in for when the self-professed ‘political sex farce’ In the Club provides a hotel suite crammed with pink latex dildos, fluffy handcuffs, a masturbatory device unwittingly grasped by a be-robed Polish bishop, Jiffy bags of explosive and not-so-explosive material, glasses of iced water for dangling the lead actor’s testicles in (to increase his sperm count of course) and more ‘cod’ European accents than an ‘Allo ‘Allo convention in Scarborough. Yes, this is British farce from the Brian Rix/Ray Cooney school of comedy. Not Whitehall but Strasbourg, as a British socialist MEP drops his trousers and stumbles in and out of various bedrooms, chased by sex-crazed French hussies and baby-crazed feminist girlfriends, only to find true love in the end.

Richard Bean appears to have written what is best described as an homage, a loving pastiche, of these 60s and 70s farces. Bang up-to-date in its mock Europhobia, stereotypes career on and off stage, abusing the Belgians and the French and the Germans in the audience, with none-too-subtle swipes at Turkish attempts to join the Union and the corrupt practices of an Islamic government intent on masking their human-rights abuses behind a veneer of benign inclusivity. The trouble is, this farce never quite lifts off the ground. It is certainly witty and at times intelligent, but there is a sense of knowing smugness which, inevitably, will lead to a transient specificity to its humour which, in years to come, will be as impenetrable to future generations as it was to the young Belgian couple sitting next to me.

Still, there are some very professional performances from an excellent cast who embrace the Viz schoolboy comic-book humour with great skill. James Fleet is the hapless Euro MP Philip Wardrobe, a lazy toff who likes bossing people about and can fiddle the Euro-expenses to his advantage. It is Wardrobe who is accepting the bribe of a Million Euros to further the Turkish cause. Fleet has mastered the upper-crust galumphing hero and Wardrobe is custom written for his comic skills.

Fleet is assisted by Sian Brooke who plays his PA, Sasha, an Eastern European illegal immigrant who adds a touch of sanity and morality to the proceedings. Sasha can adapt like none of the characters in the play to the situations that arise. Brooke is sincere, funny, and eminently watchable.

Wardrobe is chased by Anna Francolini’s foxy Beatrice Renard, a French MEP who is willing to change hair colour to accommodate her paramour’s apparent predilections, while Carla Mendonca struts her womanly stuff as Nicola Daws, the strong and purposeful girlfriend whose biological clock is ticking so loud it almost drowns the action. Her change of hair colour from blonde to brunette completes the opportunities for mistaken identity.

Finally, Wardrobe accommodates an old buddy in his hotel room, one for whom the Strasbourg gravy train smothers an enormous helping of Yorkshire pudding. Eddie Fredericks is played by Richard Moore as a cross between Jimmy Durante and Geoff Boycott, whose Yorkshire constituency prefers a sandwich and flask approach to European travelling. Moore blusters and rants through the play, ignoring the linguistic diversity of those around him. This is self-parody taken to extremis and, occasionally, Eddie’s remarks are the funniest in the play.

Jonathan Fensom’s Strasbourg Continental Hotel design is pleasing to the eye and when the action slows there are several design home-improvement tips to keep one occupied. David Grindley’s direction remains faithful to the play’s farcical roots. Trousers drop on cue, bombs explode offstage, and doors fly open and shut to reveal dressing-gown clad ladies hot for the latest instalment of sex. For those who like their humour broad, parochial, laddishly rude and stereotypical, this play cannot fail to amuse.

Kevin Quarmby © 2007

Originally published on R&V 06-08-07

Advertisements

3 comments on “Archive Review • IN THE CLUB • Hampstead Theatre • 2007

  1. beetleypete
    01/16/2017

    I lived so close to this theatre for twelve years, yet never went there. My theatre-going was always in the opposite direction, back then. I am not a great fan of farce, but I recall Carla Mendonca from her time in the kid’s TV show, ‘My Parents are Aliens’, which I enjoyed. (As an adult!)
    Best wishes, Pete. x

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Taylor Revert

An anything-and-everything blog from life's number one fan

Random Facts in History

History is complex, massive, and full of strange events and coincidences. Learn with me as I hunt those out and bring them into the light.

Life with an Illness

*Tips and tricks on how to get through life when you have a chronic illness*

The poor side of life

Exposing the unfair treatment of jobseekers, the horrors of Universal Credit, unfair sanctions and heinous treatment of claimants at Ashton under Lyne Jobcentre.

For the Love of Art

Create, Explore, and Discover, Every Day.

Politics and Insights

Public interest issues, policy, equality, human rights, social science

IWtheatre

Supporting the rich amateur theatre scene on the Isle of Wight

Robin Hoskyns Nature Photography - Blog

Images and stories of nature, science and conservation.

Sarah Ditum

Writing, etc.

The Müscleheaded Blog

"Nothing Exceeds Like Superfluous Jejunity "

Jots from a Small Apt.

Largely @ Liberty

Rethinking Life

Art and the philosophy of life

Croatia, the War, and the Future

Ina Vukic - Croatia: people, politics, history, economy, transition from communism to democracy

lynz real cooking

lynz real life

Pride's Purge

an irreverent look at UK politics

Pride's Purge

an irreverent look at UK politics

Tropical Affair

Observations of the illusion through the eyes of wonder...

barneyhoskyns.com

The home of writer Barney Hoskyns' books, poems, photos and more.

Smorgasbord - Variety is the spice of life

Blog magazine for lovers of health, food, books, music, humour and life in general

I didn't have my glasses on....

A trip through life with fingers crossed and eternal optimism.

Left Handed Lottie

Drawing and painting on an ipad

Atelier 88

More than just rooms

The Sleeping Hare

Art by Lottie Nevin

Pacific Paratrooper

This WordPress.com site is Pacific War era information

beetleypete

The musings of a Londoner, now living in Norfolk

Vegan Books For Children

books from Little Chicken, Honestly Books and Violet's Vegan Comics

Catherine Meyrick

Historical Fiction with a touch of Romance

Silver Screenings

an irreverent blog of old movies

My Life as an Artist (2)

Smile! You’re at the best WordPress.com site ever

Violet's Vegan Comics

Virtual Vegan Comics for Children

Two Rooms Plus Utilities

Written from the heart, this is the unadulterated truth of live with multiple chronic illnesses and being housebound. My life open for you to follow. Please join me

kickingthecat

How current policy is little more than kicking the cat....

Matt's History Blog

Hopefully interesting snippets and thoughts

David Hencke

Westminster and Whitehall news investigations

Notes from the U.K.

Exploring the spidery corners of a culture and the weird stuff that tourist brochures ignore.

BRIDGET WHELAN writer

August is archive month. Posts from the past

P.A. Moed

Creative Exploration in Words and Pictures

creartfuldodger

collage/mixed media artist

My Dad Is A Goldfish

Caring for a demented dad

Scope's Blog

Scope exists to make this country a place where disabled people have the same opportunities as everyone else. Until then, we'll be here.

Art Farm of a Country Woman

Painting My World with My Heart~

e-Tinkerbell

Literature, books , sport and whatever intrigues me

AT A GENTLE PACE - Bridget Whelan's lifestyle travel blog

for people who would try anything except whitewater rafting (probably)

reviewdonkey

My personal opinions about.......stuff (as if you care!)

A Teacher's Reflections

Thirty Years of Wonder

%d bloggers like this: