‘Touch and Go’

‘Touch and Go’ is a classic farce, a clandestine comedy written by Derek Benfield, a Bradford-born playwright and actor. Benfield wrote more than 30 stage plays, and was a well-known face on TV, with roles including Walter Greenhalgh in ‘Coronation Street’ and as Patricia Routledge’s husband in BBC TV’s ‘Hetty Wainthropp’ detective series.

This riotously funny two and a quarter hour show is being presented by the Garrick Theatre Club, and can be seen at the Garrick Theatre, 16 Meadow Street, Guildford. The performances are every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night at 8.00 pm until Saturday 10th December. There are matinées on Sunday 27th November and 4th December at 2.00 pm.

The scene is the present day, in two nearby London flats.

The stage is divided down the middle. To one side is George and Jessica’s trendy and luxurious flat; complete with white leather couch and contemporary, original paintings on the wall. The other side of the stage is Brian and Hilary’s more staid home, with its unusual wallpaper, a corduroy couch and prints of famous paintings. Designer, Ray Egan has put a great deal of thought into each of the sitting rooms, with many little extra features. He was helped in the construction by Adrian Ashman, Fred Petersen, Owen Davis and Graeme Dick.

The show is stage manged by Graeme Dick and Marion West.

The complex, fast moving script requires slick lighting and sound control – all worked well thanks to Geoff Holt and Mark Owen.

       Middle-aged Brian (Joe Isaia) has the chance of an affair with an attractive young woman, Wendy (Lindsay Cliff), but has nowhere to take her. Thankfully, Brian’s best friend, George (Andrew Govey), comes to the rescue. George’s wife, Jessica (Siobhán Vincent) is away on a work trip in America, and so Brian can use their flat on a Wednesday afternoon whilst George is at his darts match.

     When overweight Brian suggests to his wife, Hilary (Kylie Isaia) that he fancies trying jogging, Hilary is so pleased to see him taking care of himself, that she buys him a bright red track suit for his park runs.

     Brian arrives at George’s flat and finds Wendy, hot and ready – unfortunately, within minutes of his arrival, George’s wife returns home a day early and catches them.

     How will Brian talk his way out of that?

Director, Alice Dale has been part of community theatre, professional theatre and WA TV business for many years. When your brother (Stanley Baxter) was one of the funniest men ever in Scotland, then the genes are bound to help, and not surprisingly Alice’s direction was superb, inventive and slick.

Some of the audience may recall the Whitehall Farces of the 1960s / 70s, with its star philanderer, Brian Rix. Whitehall has always been held as the ultimate producer in farces, and Rix as the best ever, panic stricken lover. This production is the nearest to I have seen to the old days. The script was ingenious, the set superb, the direction perfect and the whole cast unbelievable. The panic stricken faces, the desperate moves, the crouched stance ready to escape, the tremor in the voice – all captured perfectly.

This one of the best structured farces that I have seen. It is fast paced and so takes exceptional actors to carry it off, and that is what we have here – the very best of the best. A must see production.