Bedside Manners, Norwich
At least it has Tim Brooke-Taylor as the hotel keeper, unstoppably and endearingly playing his favourite role as Tim Brooke-Taylor...
By CHARLES ROBERTS
Having for ever and a year been a devoted theatre man, there's been little attraction in my schedule for television and its icons. But TV does have one great virtue – you can switch it off.
Oh to have had that luxury at the Theatre Royal last night, at Bedside Manners, a predictable, pedestrian farce. Yes, there's plenty of bedside, as opposed to in-bed, activity. There are oodles of slamming doors; a smattering of chuckle-worthy one-liners; and a smidgen of partial undress. Yet it stolidly remains, not so much a “revival” of the pattern of those '70s drop-yer-trousers frolics, as a Living Dead recycling of theatrical clichés.
Even the set has this feel of long-ago déjà vu, with its echoes of Hotel Paradiso. The plot (I use the word advisedly) fits in neatly: two married couples turn up at the hotel on the same night – but not with their married partners.
The production doesn't help much either. There are few fresh ideas in the visual gags department. The first half is funerial in pace and the company has been moulded into the kind of knee-jerk acting and OTT playing which was fine in Hi-de-Hi and 'Allo 'Allo, but which you thought had disappeared from the modern (professional) comedy stage.
At least it does have Tim Brooke-Taylor as the hotel keeper, unstoppably and endearingly playing his favourite role as Tim Brooke-Taylor. There he is, racing up and down staircases, slamming doors with gusto, using every last comic gesture, facial expression and vocal glissando in the book (which he probably wrote), and generally keeping the vehicle moving.
- 1 Body found in the sea at Great Yarmouth
- 2 North Norfolk road closed with drivers asked to avoid area
- 3 Norwich firm part of growing number of businesses working four day weeks
- 4 Holiday Inn to become 'care hotel' to help struggling hospitals
- 5 Popular teacher, 55, died after falling down stairs, inquest hears
- 6 Teenager died of injuries six days after crash
- 7 One of East Anglia's largest property builders is sold to investment firm
- 8 John Lewis CCTV footage leads to Norwich gun arrests
- 9 A year on: Tributes to teacher who died following tumour diagnosis
- 10 1920s bungalow up for sale in one of the Broads' most sought-after villages
And the audience loved it, as proven by gusty laughter throughout, and applause at the close which would have gratified the Three Tenors.