Sunday Express - August 28th, 2005

 

Band of brothers sets us laughing


It takes a while for the comic motor of Tom, Dick & Harry to get going but once it does, there’s no stopping it.
Whether it’s to your taste or not is another question but a woman next to me was wiping away tears of laughter and so, at times, was I.
This is Ray Cooney’s 23rd West End play; he is the last of a near-extinct breed of theatrical farceurs whose preposterous situation comedy has been usurped by TV.
Lots of jokes are hoary – heard about the dyslexic woman who walked into a bra? – and there are more fart gags than necessary, but it’s all part of the unsophisticated charm of a play like a seaside postcard come to life.
Cooney makes it a family affair by casting three real-life McGann brothers – Joe, Stephen and Mark – as the respective onstage brothers of the title.
While Tom and his wife await an important visit from the adoption agency, his scally siblings are up to their own schemes. Before you know it, the stage is a flurry of illegal immigrants and stray body parts. It’s never subtle, but it’s executed with a lot of pratfalls, belly laughs and high energy.
I certainly laughed more freely than at the smug society comedy of George Bernard Shaw’s antique You Never Can Tell. Peter Hall’s production of this late 19th-century play...


Mark Shenton

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