Surrey Advertiser - November 4th, 2005
A world premiere is always an exciting event, and Time’s Up, at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, is a first on two counts.
A first performance and the first time Ray Cooney – undisputed master of farce – has written the book for a musical.
The farcical element in this production is so fleeting, you’ll miss it if you blink. But who cares – the show is great fun and just the thing to make you forget the November gloom outside.
Steven goes to the hypnotherapist to stop smoking. The treatment results in his regression to a previous existence in 1929 Chicago, where he was a gangster with a conscience.
In 2005, he’s the only lawyer with a conscience in his practice in Guildford. Currently about to marry the boss’s daughter, he falls for Ruby, a gangster’s moll when he’s back in the prohibition era.
This complicates his love life and makes the final wedding scene in St Mary’s Church unlike any that historic building has seen.
There’s an ingenious set and an ensemble of Guildford School of Acting Conservatoire students, who couldn’t be better served with some witty choreography.
The show opens with a cracking number The Monday Morning Meeting, which puts us in a receptive frame of mind.
It is not, in fact, bettered in the course of the evening, although the gangster’s Tat-a-Tat Rag runs at a close second with the hoodlums in correspondent shoes, snap brim fedoras and sharp suits tripping the light fantastic in a derelict garage.
Jody Crosier as the reincarnated hero has an appealing combination of naivery and dogged determination. Plus he’s no mean singer.
As Ruby, the gangster’s moll, Jo Gibb gives a sparkling performance full of vitality and chutzpah. Some of the smaller parts are beautifully realised. The Boss, the little secretary, the bride’s mother, the therapist, the best man.
And, of course, Anne Rogers – who doesn’t appear until after the interval – as the old dear whose home is in the middle of a supermarket development. (As the show is set in Guildford, the desecrated village has a familiar name: it’s Littleton). She’s amazingly energetic, dancing in yellow wellies and directoire knickers. The audience loved her to bits.
Time’s Up is trying out in Guildford. There is no tour and this is the only venue. When I met Ray Cooney the other day, he told me that after this week he was taking it home to work on before presenting it in the West End.
On the evidence of Monday’s performance and its enthusiastic reception, he’s in for a bit of a sabbatical. It finishes at the Yvonne Arnaud tomorrow, (Friday)