There Goes The Bride

‘There Goes the Bride’ is a truly funny farce, written by Ray Cooney OBE and John Chapman. Chapman was born in Acton, between the BBC TV Centre and the famous Ealing Film studios. He died in Périgueux, France, aged 74. His playwrighting partner, Ray Cooney OBE, along with Whitehall’s Brian Rix ruled the farce industry in the UK for around three decades. Their style and intricacies of the scripts were unique.

This play was written in the early 1970s, so it is a little dated, but the theme is ageless. A film was made of one of Clooney’s best-loved farces – ‘Run for your Wife’ – but it was described as one of the worst films ever made. Clooney soon learnt that farces only really work with live audiences.

Ray Cooney began his theatrical career as a boy actor in 1946. After appearing in a dozen comedies, he began writing and to date has had eighteen plays produced in London’s West End. He appeared in many of the traditional British bawdy Whitehall farces with Brian Rix throughout the 1950s and 1960s, and this was when he acquired his skills.

This is an unusual farce, with very few doors opening and closing, but it is strongly character based around two madmen.

This 2-hour, classic English fast-paced, hilarious farce is presented by the Darlington Theatre Players and can be seen at the Marloo Theatre, 20 Marloo Road, just off Greenmount Hill. The shows are each Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from Saturday 19th November to Saturday 3rd December. Curtain up at 7.30 pm.

Scene:                   1970s A large lounge room in a mansion on the outskirts of London.

Set design:          George Boyd at his best. The scene is a very spacious room that filled the wide stage with its burgundy walls, white doors and windows. At the rear of the stage are double doors, with 60 cm high Grecian urn plant pots on each side, planted with white weeping willows. Then a terracotta tiled step down to the hardwood floor, made of metre square tiles (artwork). Profound effect, and a huge amount of work.

Vaulting the wide stage are three large tan-coloured, curved arches on columns with fitted wall lamps. The two windows framed by light mushroom-coloured curtains showed the catering marquee in the garden beyond.

On the right of the stage are three doors, leading to a study, a hallway and a cupboard. There is a wine bar with a smart drinks table laid out for the guests. Centre stage is an Italian three-seat, peach velour studded settee and a matching chair. Immediately behind the settee is a bookcase. Several beautiful gold-wrought iron, marble-topped drinks tables are around the room.

Set construction:              Rob Warner, Adrian Ashman, Ray Egan, Belinda Beatty, Lesley Sutton, Neroli Sweetman, Steve Moloney, Zac Moloney and Luke Miller. MOST impressive work. The pure opulence look was achieved.

Props:                   Lesley Sutton has again furnished the room to look lived in. With a standard lamp, oriental wooden trunk, with several African wooden masks on the front of the bar.

Lighting design:                Shelly Miller achieved even lighting over all of the walls and sitting areas – difficult with such a large area. Well thought-out cosy colour tones.

Sound design:                    Guy Jackson has produced clear crisp sound effects and classic 1920s band music.

Lighting and sound operator:      Timothy Zuiddam fine work

Choreography:                  Marjan Martin helped Luke and Ellie with their twirls.

Stage manager:                 Rob Warner – slick.

Rehearsal Assistant:       Sandra Sando

Poster design:                    Chloe Wiggers

Costumes:           Marjorie DeCaux and Baci Boutique

With his beautiful daughter Judy (Belinda Beatty) about to   the happiest day of her life, tense advertising executive Timothy Westerby (Luke Miller) is struggling to finalise the plans for her massive society wedding – which is in only two hours’ time! Luckily, his serene and organised wife Ursula (Tracey Morrison) seems to be coping well.

Timothy’s business partner and best friend, Bill Shorter (Gavin Crane) is helping with the coordination of flowers, buttonholes, and catering arrangements for the reception.

Ursula’s humourless mother, Daphne Drimmond (Jacquie Warner) has arrived with her loveable, but senile, bumbling, and confused husband, Gerald (John Pomfet) a retired GP. They are thrilled because their granddaughter is about to marry the son of an Australian entrepreneur and billionaire, Charles Babcock (Rex Gray).

As they are all about to leave for the church, Timothy bangs his head and on coming around, finds himself accompanied by an imaginary stunning 1920s Flapper girl, Polly Perkins (Ellie Bawden – brilliant entrance), who is part of his current advertising campaign. The trouble is no one else can see this girl and Timothy is becoming increasingly infatuated with her.

How will Judy’s happy day go?

The play is about upper-crust English relatives, and this cast had fine ‘pukka’ English accents. The comedy was cleverly written, with several of the jokes filtering through a few paragraphs later resulting in delayed laughter.

Wonderful direction by Neroli Sweetman. Farces require a special delivery of the script, either in panic mode or being totally unaware of what is going on. Neroli has led her brilliant cast through the turmoil and can be most proud of the result. Luke as the proud father, started confused with the failing arrangements but soon turned into a suave teenager again. He remained poker-faced as all around collapsed. Then came the song and dance! A superior performance. Next was John, outstanding as the decrepit father, who was confused and with bad logic, tried so hard to understand what his family were doing – only to become even more confused. His skip and jumps were one of the funniest things I have seen in some time.

The key characters of a farce rely very much on the skilful feeds and backup of the remaining cast. The ladies were in contrast to the men, quite serious and dedicated to the wedding’s success, with ‘the Shorter’ man acting as a go-between.

This was a very funny script, perfectly delivered and a total hoot.