Stars explained: * A production of no real merit with failings in all areas. ** A production showing evidence of not enough time or effort, or even talent, and which never breathes any real life into the piece – or a show lumbered with a terrible script. *** A good enjoyable show which might have some small flaws but has largely achieved what it set out to do.**** An excellent show which shows a great deal of work and stage craft with no noticeable or major flaws.***** A four star show which has found that extra bit of magic which lifts theatre to another plane.
Half stars fall between the ratings

cast kiss me

Gary Pritchard as Bernard, Elena Serafinas as Viviane, Phebe Bland as Cindy and Paul Atkins as Olivier. Pictures: Christopher Commander

Kiss me, stupid!

Sutton Arts Theatre


I suppose, if you are that way inclined, with a wanderlust one might say, then marriage is the sort of prerequisite required for having an affair.

And it might have taken 35 years but Bernard has convinced himself that wife Viviane’s lust has well and truly wandered.

Their marriage has becomes routine, predictable, mundane even, or pretty normal as most people with 35 years of matrimony behind them would say, but it worries old Bernard, a retired estate agent who now spends his time in Lycra astride his bike trying to keep up with the peloton of younger club members.

His wife seems less interested in him, she goes babysitting or some such twice a week, a tell tale sign if ever there was one, and all the signs of infidelity are there . . . if you look really hard and screw your eyes up a bit.

His plan to win her back? Tell her you are having an affair yourself with a cock and bull story even Mills & Boon would reject.

With a story so . . . words fail after pathetic, Viviane sees through his cunning(?) plan, but if he thinks she is having an affair then she decides she might as well have one, or at least invent one of her own, to teach Bernard a lesson.

Thus, we have a husband and wife who love each other, heading into a fantasy world of adulterous adventure to elicit jealousy and, hopefully (cue music and soft focus) a rush back into each other’s arms, reawakening their love, or at least going back to boring but with a bit more excitement and mutual appreciation involved.

So, to give a modicum of credence to this this festival of fictional fun and fornication our intrepid lovers need . . . well lovers, or at least people of the opposite sex they can pass off as lovers when needed. Part time paramours.  


Viviane perhaps contemplating the sex appeal of Lycra and goggles . . .

Viviane is lucky, she is working, so has the advantage of a colleague, Olivier. Life is not so kind for Bernard with only fellow cyclists to call on, so he has to hire a lover (do stop sniggering at the back!). His ersatz mistress is Cindy, obtained through a theatrical agent - at Equity rates of course, his needs being for an actress rather than, should we say, an escort.

With lovers signed up the stage is set for confusion, misunderstanding and lies a plenty in a sexless romp full salacious suggestion that slowly grows into a monster out of control.

Gary Pritchard’s nicely balanced performance gives us a Bernard who is, let’s be honest, pretty boring. Enthusiastic is hardly his middle name and you suspect an affair would be a pedal too far for him. He talks to himself with a miserable air with a side order of defeatism and going through life under a cloud of mild depression seems to be his default mood – he is also dedicatedly obstinate which might not be the best trait as we drift along in Act 2.

As Viviane points out the last film they saw was Star Wars the first time around, (1977), and the last concert they went to was to see his favourite group Supertramp (who broke up in 1988). Old Bernard seems to be cycling in a rut, happily freewheeling along in the autumn of life.

Viviane, in the more vivacious persona of Elena Serafinas, is still holding on to her youth, or at least not letting it escape without a fight. She still wants to go out, wants to have a life beyond work and home, and it’s not so much she has lost interest in Bernard as is finding it difficult to have anything interesting in him to find. Although there is no affair, there is a contrast when she is in the company of colleague Olivier who is younger, admittedly, but more important, fun and enthusiastic, even if it is only about his vacuuming. A lovely performance.

Olivier is played with a slightly bewildered air by Paul Atkins, not surprising as he has been recruited as a sort of toy toy-boy.

He is trying desperately to find a girlfriend, a quest not helped by him being roped in regularly at short notice as Viv’s pretend lover boy. Mind you he has plenty of selling points when it comes to attracting a future wife for real. For a start he has his own rubber gloves, is remarkably house proud and has a penchant for cleaning!

Then there is Cindy, the actress, in another wonderful performance from Phebe Bland. Cindy, you might say, is intellectually challenged, and whatever the challenge was, she lost. To appear that . . . let’s not beat around the bush here . . . thick takes impeccable timing and Phebe manages it with aplomb, and there are some delightful malapropisms and mix ups, with such comments as The Malteser Falcon and Enid Brighton and a particular favourite, frozen scones! Look out for that particular throwaway line which drifted past some in the audience. Cindy is a comic delight with an unerring ability to say the wrong thing . . .  or the right thing wrong . . .

The original play is L’Huître, literally The Oyster by Didier Caron, a French boulevard comedy bordering on farce with a trademark Gallic underlying sexuality, It was a hit comedy in France back in 2008 and was translated by Charlie Gobbett  where it premiered at his local amateur theatre group in Nantwich in 2022.

Gobbett has cleverly managed to retain that French feel while making the language and the one liners very much English humour – the French might have chuckled at the original but much of the humour would have sunk without trace in a literal translation - word play, for example, needs an audience to know what the words mean!

Gobbett's translation has resulted in a lovely, gentle comedy set in France with plenty of laughs as we head through the tortuous subterfuge of ever blossoming affairs that don’t actually exist all heading to . . . well that would be telling.

If there is a concern, then it is that the end is a little vague, open to interpretation, that being said the final moment does add another dimension, a pause for thought and perhaps reflection.

Director Ian Cornock has kept everything on track and has come up with a flexible set with the home of Bernard and Viv stage right with the home of Olivier reflected stage left with a leather settee as a furniture link between the two.

Built by Sutton Arts usual excellent stage crew it allows for two sets on stage at the same time separated by David Ashton’s Lighting design.

There are plenty of laughs, some lovely lines and, despite plenty of costume changes, covered, incidentally, by appropriate music, it keeps up a good pace. It’s a new play with a nice blend of fun mixed with moments of poignancy, and it is a play which well deserves its wider airing. The kissing . . . pretend or otherwise, will continue to 03-02-24

Roger Clarke


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