From left, Peter Ford, Heather Johnson, Steve White, Terry Pearson, Ros White, Alan Johnson, Marilyn Bersey, Julia Sheath and Reuben Loake. Picture by Robin Crossley.
STAGE REVIEWFAWLTY Towers collided with the Houses of Parliament as Ray Cooney’s Two into One came to Newchurch Community Hall last weekend.
Newchurch Drama Group’s production of the farce takes place in the Westminster Hotel, in the Eighties, with a sly cabinet minister, his bumbling secretary, a seemingly dopey Chinese waiter, a fraught hotel manager and a vigilant female Labour MP.
The cast seemed at ease with the quick-paced comedy as they romped through the scenes, occasionally hamming it up and ad-libbing, to the delight of the crowd.
One scene, featuring stripping, with Alan Johnson’s personal secretary character and the cabinet minister’s racy wife, played by Ros White, had the crowd in stitches as the pair tackled a potentially awkward situation with confidence.
Alan Johnson was a favourite with the audience, pulling faces and, at times, addressing them directly.
Peter Ford’s hotel manager was a stoic butler figure and Steve White’s Chinese waiter could have been on thin ice with racial stereotyping but he played it humorously and with only the briefest mentions of kung-fu.
Terry Pearson was believable as a wily politician and Marilyn Bersey’s Lily Chatterton was a highlight as an interfering and puritanical Labour MP.
The main characters were well supported by Heather Johnson, Reuben Loake and Julia Sheath, who had taken on the role just three days earlier.
One of the strongest elements of this enjoyable production was the sets, which had been built to spin and act as a hotel reception one minute and as two hotel rooms, after a quick 180- degree turn.
My favourite detail was the lift, with an authentic ping as the doors opened.
Due to the constantly changing set, several stage hands were needed and were cleverly dressed at hotel waiters to blend in with the setting.
Any mistakes by the cast, such as forgotten lines and the cast bumping into the constantly changing sets, were met with good humour and added another layer of amusement to this fun production.