A Bedfull of Foreigners at Sheringham Little Theatre

Steve Banks as the hotel manager walks in on more bedroom frolics. Picture: Andi Sapey

Steve Banks as the hotel manager walks in on more bedroom frolics. Picture: Andi Sapey - Credit: Archant

A Bedfull of Foreigners at Sheringham Little Theatre was the stuff of British seaside holidays - a classic bawdy farce from the early 1970s with plenty of predictable set pieces and old-fashioned comedy.

Sometimes this sort of humour ages badly and they certainly don't write them like this any more – think Carry On films.

However, this is more Fawlty Towers mixed with 'Allo 'Allo.

Set in the mid-1960s, it follows five guests around a run-down French hotel as they cause pandemonium in a night of mistaken identity, wife swapping, and bed hopping.

The plot gives way to the usual OTT antics of middle-aged men, dropped trousers, young women in skimpy underwear - and an animated radiator.

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Basil Fawlty, or Heinz in this case, the harassed hotel owner, played with exquisite dignified absurdity by Steve Banks, watches helplessly as the mayhem unfolds.

But it is his own Manuel - here called Karak – and played by the irrepressible Fenton Gray whose anarchic performance steals the show.

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Joey Herzfeld as Stanley Parker, one half of the English couple who find themselves in a village on the eve of a festival, gives a restrained but perfectly timed performance thereby giving the jokes that much more sharpness.

Corrina Powlesland, who plays his stage wife Brenda looking like a cross between June Whitfield and Barbara Windsor, shows a great understated comic talent.

Energetic performances from Rachel Smyth as Helga, wife of the pompous Claude (Tim Freeman) and Lesley Ann Acheson, Claude's sexy girlfriend, Simone, who each milked the script for all the laughs they could get. And there were plenty – some not scripted, as when Freeman forgot his lines and had the audience in stitches as he superbly ad-libbed his way out of his predicament.

Indeed, the fact that the cast avoided hamming it up or mangling the accents gave the whole affair a more modern feel and left us genuinely laughing and not squirming. The radiator, however, is the uncredited trouper and must get a mention as it wilfully defied the plot causing great hilarity. So, the tradition of seaside postcard humour never dies and we thank director Simon Thompson for reminding us how good old-fashioned entertainment can be.

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