No wonder Ray Cooney’s farces attract packed audiences. Going to the theatre is an expensive business and it helps to know for sure you are going to enjoy the experience.
Lovers of old fashioned farce know they are going to have a good time when they see a Cooney play, theatre-goers who hate the genre know to wait for next week’s Ibsen or Pinter.
TOM DICK & HARRY written by Cooney Senior and his son Michael shows that age 71, the veteran funster’s ingenuity for creating chaos and carnage is nowhere near drying up.
The only nod to the 21st Century is some mildly rude language and some slightly blacker situations than audiences would have accepted 50 years ago.
Our put upon hero Tom has to cope with illegal immigrants, a body and boxes of smuggled cigarettes, all rather inconvenient as Tom and his wife, Linda, are also awaiting the arrival of a council official who will decide if they are fit to become adoptive parents.
It is all the fault of Tom’s feckless brothers Dick and Harry.
Likeable Bradley Walsh has the ‘straight’ role of Tom, losing the cool utterly in the face of his implacably stupid brothers’ disastrous scams. He is never off stage.
Joe Pasquale proves a brilliant farceur as idiot brother Dick. He balances Bradley’s growing despair by staying infuriatingly calm and still has the chaos he has created erupts about him. Add that famous ‘helium’ voice and you have a comic gem of a performance, nearly matched by Richard Gauntlett’s athletic tumbles and irresistible mugging as idiot brother Harry.
Royce Mills produces a perfectly judged comic performance as funny foreigner Andreas – yes Cooney farces can still get away with funny foreigners.
In the chaotic and dangerous modern age, Cooney-world is strangely irresistible. It is an ingenious, energetic and ultimately happy world, especially when the great man is directing the show himself.
Long may it flourish.