Daily Express - August 31st, 2003
It’s official – Ray Cooney has entered the internet era. But you would have to be a pretty diehard Luddite to object to the gentleness with which we are eased into the 21st century in CAUGHT IN THE NET, Cooney’s laugh-a-second sequel to his smash-hit farce RUN FOR YOUR WIFE .
Two-timing taxi driver John Smith is still living in bigamous bliss in Streatham and Wimbledon, but his twin houses of cards threatens to collapse when his son by one wife meets his daughter by the other in an internet chatroom. The youngsters are determined to meet – and John, played with manic energy by Robert Daws is equally determined to sop them.
It falls to Russ Abbot as ne’er-do-well lodger Stanley, to help keep John’s two worlds apart. The gigantic Abbot is a master of physical comedy, slamming his own head in a door and carting his fellow actors around the stage as if they were rag dolls. On the cheap and cheerful set, which neatly represents both houses in the same space, he somehow manages to keep the chaos one slammed door short of a catastrophe.
He and Daws are ably supported by Carol Hawkins and Helen Gill as John’s wives and William Harry and Beccy Armory as his kids.
But the real show-stopper is Eric Sykes as Stanley’s old Dad. Virtually blind and totally deaf, the 78 year old veteran steals every scene he is in, performing perfectly-timed vaudevillian acrobats with his Zimmer frame and bringing the house down with a harmless line like: “I’ve been waiting for you in Clapham”. It has been a while since I cried laughing at the theatre, and what a joy it is when it happens.
Cooney is not much good at writing gags or witty one-liners, and the ending of
the play doesn’t quite ring true, but none of that matters in all the mobile-juggling, snorkel-wearing physical hilarity.