The Oxford Times - December 8th, 2006
The Mill at Sonning's hilarious festive farce
Serving up its traditional festive fare both on stage and in its restaurant, The Mill at Sonning has surpassed itself. Their production of Ray Cooney’s hilarious farce IT RUNS IN THE FAMILY is one of the most energetic pieces of theatre to be seen this Christmas.
The story is as implausible as it is enjoyable. Dr Mortimore, the undistinguished Head of Neurology at St Luke’s hospital, is nervously preparing for a prestigious lecture which could lead to great promotions for him if it goes well. After continual stress-inducing interruptions from his boss, his wife, the hospital matron and other colleagues, he is unaware at first that his latest visitor is his former lover from 18 years before.
When she tells him that she had secretly given birth to his son, and that said son is now downstairs demanding to see his dad, Mortimore’s stress levels go into orbit. They remain there for the next two hours as he tries to extricate himself from the possible career disaster.
Being Ray Cooney territory, the action involves a complex series of deceptions, mistakes and misunderstandings. They are served up with plenty of silly jokes and hearty visual comedy. In and out of a series of doors, windows, bathrooms and hidey-holes, the cast fling themselves with abandon. The sheer energy of all the performers is phenomenal. I was exhausted just watching them and worried once or twice if they would do themselves a mischief.
Among a series of excellent performances I would especially note that of Patrick Monckton as Bill, an eccentric (possibly barmy) patient who is an innocent bystander as the crazy events unfold. His inappropriate interjections take moments of pure hilarity to an almost surreal level. The suave, yet manic, performance by Michael Cochrane as the beleaguered Mortimore is the strong centre that holds this piece together. Memorable flights of fancy from other cast members such as Dr Bonney’s rendition of Mammy, or the staid Matron accidentally high on drugs, come thick and fast, leaving you no time to catch your breath before you are forced to laugh again. Even now I am smiling at what went on with the soda-syphon.
If you’re looking for an honest-to-goodness funny and entertaining show then IT RUNS IN THE FAMILY fits the bill perfectly. The Mill have made this a real special occasion for their patrons. It made me feel very Christmassy indeed.