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

Practising safe, No Sex

No Sex Please, We're British

Highbury Theatre Centre


IT SEEMS we have come a long way since the Obscene Publications act of 1959 and rightly or wrongly have now allowed a society where these issues are both common knowledge and accepted.   

When No Sex Please We‘re British was written by Anthony Marriott and Alistair Foote in 1971, the subject was still a hotbed of international court action. However looking back the 42 years since, the embarrassment and legality of being in possession of some ` naughty publications' no longer quite has the edge it once might have had.

It was a young Michael Crawford who first originated the lead role of Brian Runnicales with many commenting since that that was the birth of Frank Spencer, later to be seen in the TV series Some Mothers Do ‘Av Em.

The plot is centred on newlyweds Peter and Frances Hunter who live above a high-street bank. Peter is an employee and Frances, in the hope of starting a small business, orders some glassware from a Scandinavian mail order company. Instead of glassware though a package of adult photos arrives, the first of several awkward deliveries.

The principal action then becomes the hiding and disposal of the items, which as the location is a flat above a bank, creates an amusing set of logistical difficulties.

Dan Payne and Daisy Hale do a nice job as Mr & Mrs Hunter, effectively knitting together the developing chaos of a flat filled with unwanted guests while they and Brian Runnicales, a bank cashier played by Richard Cogzell, do their best to lose the offensive material.

Overall Cogzell was the only one who effectively kept up the level of absurdity and panic sufficiently to sell the 70's notion that porn was at that time still an under the counter and illicit affair.


It is our acceptance of such things that perhaps made the production a little too comfortable for the players to rise to and only occasionally did it generate the panic that being publically caught with a smutty novel would once have had.

This production is directed by both Sandra Hayes and Robert Hicks giving Mr Hicks his debut experience in the director's chair and jointly they kept things moving nicely. This committee approach may though have contributed to the lack of fire in the proceedings although the combinations of entrances, doorbells, doors were all timed to perfection by the supporting cast.

`No Sex' is a gentle beginning to Highbury's season and the play traditionally is something of a stock item for amateur companies. However after all of this time it is also something of a time capsule and now rather dated. At one point someone called   ` Danny la Rue' is mentioned?  This means that besides the situation lacking modern credibility, that a fair amount of the humour now falls by the wayside and it must soon be  time to have `No Sex' safely  behind closed doors.

However if it's a nostalgic look at the end of the sixties, our  legacy of Victorian thinking with a few good laughs thrown in, then it's still one for you.

Jeff Grant 

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