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

A fine body of evidence

Out of Order

The Grange Players

The Grange Playhouse, Walsall


SURELY genuine MPs wouldn’t get up to the antics engaged in by Tory Junior Minister Richard Willey in this hilarious farce by Ray Cooney . . . or would they?

Instead of supporting the Prime Minister in a House of Commons debate he moves into a plush suite at the Westminster Hotel for a night of passion with an attractive married secretary from the opposition camp.

But his plans go badly wrong when he discovers the body of an apparent intruder trapped under the dodgy, heavy sash window opening onto a balcony, and wily Willey – who likes his girlfriend to call him Dickey – begins a series of actions designed to save his skin and avoid a scandal.

Alan Lane is a hoot as the MP who has told his wife he is at a late-night sitting of the House, coping superbly with the twists and turn of the madcap plot, deftly popping in and out of doors and through the open window to reach an adjoining room.

And there is a magical performance from Adam Worton, his nervous parliamentary private secretary George Pidgen, at first reluctant to help his boss but gradually being drawn into the search for a solution.

His transformation from the squeaky clean government employee to a randy womaniser in the desperate endeavour to help his boss is remarkable . . . memorable clinches with Liz Webster (the MP’s attractive wife, Pamela) and Fiona Costly (his mum’s nurse, Gladys) earn generous applause.

Becki Jay, appearing appealingly in her undies for several scenes, impresses as bubbly blonde secretary Jane Worthington, whose suspicious husband Ronnie (energetically played by Adam Woodward) employs a private detective to keep an eye on her, and David Stone is the amusing waiter always keen on a bung as he tries to understand the crazy events in room 648.

What a performance, too, from Alex Barzdo, playing the ‘body’ of the private detective. Dragged from pillar to post he has to cope with some astonishing punishment to make his demise convincing. More than a week of this and he will start to wonder if he is dead or alive.

A fine cast is completed by David Weller as the pompous hotel manager who even finds himself with his pants down at one point, and Jill Simkin, the foreign maid.

A stunning set designed by Tony Groves, Robert Onions, Alex Barzdo and Sue Groves, so important to the play, works particularly well, with the ‘killer’ sash window’s guillotine-like descents timed to perfection.

On opening night an unintentional incident amused some eagle-eyed members of the audience who spotted one member of the cast dialing a number of the suite’s phone, then another actor punching in the numbers! A minor blip in a truly memorable production that sends everyone home smiling.

Directed by Chris Waters and produced by Jon Lea Redmond and Jane James, to 18-01-14

Paul Marston 

Grange Players

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