Charley’s Aunt

Worcester Repertory Company

The Commandery, Worcester


Charley’s Aunt comes from Brazil where the nuts come from! This ‘old chestnut’ is a wordy farce by Brandon Thomas which receives a fresh injection and energy from the Worcester Repertory Company at The Commandery Gardens over the coming fortnight.

Jack Chesney and Charley Wykeham, played by Jamie Kwasnik, students at Oxford, are in love with Kitty Verdun (Victoria Lucie) and Amy Spettigue (Alison Hellings) respectively.

When the arrival of Charley’s aunt is delayed, they enlist the help of their friend, Lord Fancourt Babberley to impersonate the lady (whom none of them has met) to acts as a chaperone in an age when it would have been frowned upon for the young lovers to meet alone. However the real aunt, played by Liz Grand, turns up earlier than they imagined, creating huge complications for the young students, and multiple ironies ensue.

After all the embarrassing and hilarious complications of the plot, the outcome is romantically satisfying for all except the ludicrous Stephen Spettigue, played by Jonathan Darby.

The style of this production has elements of farce and pantomime as the company play fast and loose with the original text in order to maximise the laughs. The ‘fourth wall’ is fully removed, the bawdy jokes at times are overplayed, but in general it is a bundle of fun and the cast have a real energy and transmit a great sense of enjoyment.

The absence of set, and almost complete absence of props, mean that the play is focussed on the actors delivering their lines and magnifying their characters in their sumptuous costumes. There is no amplification but the cast do very well in projecting the lines clearly and effectively.

The standout performers were Stratford-based John Robert Partridge as Lord Fancourt Babberley and the Rep’s associate director Ben Humphrey as Jack Chesney, though the team was generally strong. The young ladies are charming and beautiful, the old men are suitably grim. The pace was mostly excellent and the timing of the lines was crisp, which is vital to the humour of the play.

Some of the elements thrown in to refresh the play and give it a local flavour were very creative and enriching. The concluding dance and especially the witty song at the start of Act Two were very entertaining.

The occasion is greatly helped by good weather and  the opportunity to sit around and enjoy a glass of wine and some nibbles on a pleasant summer evening in one of Worcester’s most delightful and historic surroundings. These give the occasion great charm. The asides to the audience drew us into the fun and by the end everybody was joining in with the refrain – ‘where the nuts come from’! Directed by the Rep’s artistic Director Chris Jaeger, it runs to 23-07-17.

Tim Crow


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