Fringe Box



Review: Dry Rot – Yvonne Arnaud

Published on: 16 Oct, 2012
Updated on: 16 Oct, 2012

If you’re looking for some light comedy to make you chuckle after a hard days work, Dry Rot is the show for you. The classic 1950s farce is stopping by at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre until Saturday the 20th October.

Although there is not much of a plot to follow, the story still manages to keep you entertained with great slapstick moments, mistaken identities and colourful characters.

The plot deals with the Wagstaff family, a Colonel, his wife and young daughter, who have just moved into a large mansion. They hope to turn it into a hotel, and the play sees them receive their first guests. A respectable gentleman from London is coming to visit along with his valet and secretary, but all is not what it seems.

Gareth Hale, Andrew Paul and Steven Blakeley in John Chapman’s Dry Rot

The respectable gentleman is really a crooked bookie, Alf Tubbe with his two sidekicks. They have plans to get rich quick from a betting scam involving a local horse racing event. A drugged horse, secret panels, disguises and a confused French jockey combine to produce hilarious results.

The standard of acting was very high as was the comic timing. Neil Stacy was entertaining as the gruff grumpy Colonel, embodying the classic stiff upper lip stereotype that was so prevalent in 1950s farces. The team of crooked bookies (Andrew Paul as Alfred Tubbe, Steven Blakeley as Fred Phipps and Gareth Hale as Flash Harry), did a fantastic job of successfully wading through the wordplay and physical comedy.

Evelyn Adams and Mark Martin gave a sweet portrayal as blossoming lovers Susan Wagstaff and John Danby who find time to giggle and steal kisses between the chaos. A highlight however was Eastenders star Gemma Bissix as the the simple maid Beth. Her endearing struggles and misunderstandings added an extra layer of humour to the plot.

Gemma Bissix a Highlight of the show

Especially enjoyable was the sheer size of the cast, along with a very detailed set depicting the inside of the mansion. In modern theatre, minimal sets and small casts are the norm, whether for budgeting reasons or because of the style of contemporary plays. So to be treated to a detailed set, with doors, staircases, carpets and working lights was a real treat. Add to this a cast of 10, navigating this set through complicated plot twists and you have a real visual treat.

It is not the best farce ever written but it is definitely the perfect play for a gentle laugh. And although the audience was a little smaller than I have seen for other Yvonne Arnaud shows, they were generous with their laughter.


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