DAILY EXPRESS - August 24th, 2005


Family fortunes in this Cooney classic

FAMILY affairs don’t get much more family than this. Not only have father and son Ray and Michael Cooney written this play, but it stars the redoubtable McGann brothers, Joe, Stephen and Mark, as brothers.
It is also classic Ray Cooney who, despite 45 years and 25 farces, is still wonderfully inventive. 
We start with the innocuous premise that Tom (Joe McGann) and his wife (Hannah Waterman) wish to adopt a baby; within minutes their flat is full of his brothers and several body parts in plastic bags, a couple of illegal immigrants and a visitor from Social Services. Not to mention more identity confusion and misunderstanding than even Cooney can usually shake a stick at.
And as co-author Ray himself directs, we get a production paced like lightening, which is just as well since the last thing a Cooney farce needs is time for the audience to think. By the time we get to one of the clan having to conjure up a first wife and a dead mother-in-law it is best not to ask.
There is a kind of daft logic here as the plot runs swiftly away with itself. Cooney’s genius is to realise that things only have to make sense for the moment in which they are happening and to those centrally involved.
And here the McGann brothers come into their own. They may not be the most experienced of farceurs, but a lifetime in the same family has given them a brilliantly instinctive sense of each others timing. They rest of the cast stand around looking apalled.
What you get here is the nearest thing to a stage cartoon, but drawn with such utter confidence and admirable speed you have to laugh.

Sheridan Morley