‘Don’t Just Lie There Say Something’ is an extremely funny 1973 farce, written by British playwright and screenwriter, Michael Pertwee. Born into a theatrical family, Michael had many relations who were actors or writers. Pertwee was also an actor in many films and TV series, from detectives to comedy. He died 22 years ago, but his writing is still fresh and on this occasion, with the Election just passed, very relevant. This was the play that helped make Joanna Lumley, of ‘Absolutely Fabulous’, famous.
This Rockingham Theatre Company’s presentation was showing at the Castle Theatre, 8 Attwood Way, Rockingham, until the 21st September. The two and a half hour show started at 7.30 pm and the Sunday Matinee performance started at 2.00 pm.
On the left apron of the stage is a small set representing the civic hall where the election results are to be announced. The main stage shows the upmarket flat of London MP, Barry Ovis. It is divided in two; these magnificent sets represent the bedroom on the left and a sitting room on the right (construction by cast and Danny Scarrott, Danny Joyce, Shirley Lambert, Daniel Lund and Johnny Murray). The numerous quality props and extras sourced by Sue Lawson and Stephanie Bell.
In the Civic Hall, the janitor (Dave jones) has just finished cleaning the stage and checking the equipment. Two banner boys (Jayden Fern, Ben Naylor) lead the prospective MPs into the hall. The results of the election are announced and Barry Ovis (David Heckingbottom) has been re-elected on his promise to stop the spread of the pornography being promoted by the free-love hippies. His boss, the highly respected Minister for Home Affairs, Sir William Mannering-Brown (Andy Walker) is a randy old goat who is chasing his stunning secretary, Miss Parkyn (Sue Murray).
Later, in Barry’s fashionable flat, his fiancée Jean Fenton (Sue Walker) is getting worried because Barry hasn’t returned home and it is their wedding day. The doorbell rings and there stands another MP, the senile and prudish Wilfred Potts (Terry Winter).
Meanwhile, for some strange reason, Barry is climbing in through the bedroom window dressed in hippie gear, followed by Damina (Teagan Joyce) one of the ‘beautiful people’. Seeing these hippies breaking into the MP’s flat, there is a police raid led by Detective Inspector Ruff (Helen Brown).
When a senior reporter’s wife, Wendy (Claire Ward) arrives at the flat looking for her fair share of MP love, the situation becomes a shambles.
Alison Gibson was the brave director who took on this complex farce. There are more doors and windows, exits and entrances than most farces. The intricate entanglements and slick moves required a dedicated and experienced team. Not every community theatre could pull this show off, but Rockingham is the cream of farces and the compromising moves flowed perfectly and the laughs gushed forth. The dialogue, filled with double-entendres, whilst admirable, wasn’t quite so smooth as a great deal of energy was required for the movement. The actions and sauciness were demanding on the cast, but they grinned and bared it!
The costumes brought a big smile. The lighting and sound were above the normal standard and perfectly on cue (sorry lost my programme with the names in).
This was one of the hardest farces to stage, but it worked very well and the audience loved it.