Charley's Aunt

Maddermarket Theatre, Norwich

Maddermarket Theatre, Norwich

One of the signs of a good comedy is a pain from laughing. The new offering from the Maddermarket creates that plus a tide of wellbeing and enjoyment.

It's a Victorian comedy of manners which is more than pure farce. All the classic ingredients are woven throughout.

There is mistaken identity, cross-dressing, ludicrous coincidences, doors for endless, improbable timed arrivals of near stereotypical comedy characters.

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Born in 1892, the play carries some whiskers and linguistic anachronisms, but has stood the test of time rather well. The quality of the performers is the magic touch that brings it to life.

Two young blades Charley and Jack (Barnaby Matley and David Blood) in need of a chaperone, persuade their friend (the priceless hilarious Trevor Burton) to impersonate Charley's aunt. The consequences and chaos become increasingly bizarre.

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The long suffering manservant (David Newham) sympathetically punctuates the inspired madness. The real aunt (Mary Perry) is suitably regal. The young girls and pompous older men compliment each to perfection.

The secret of this genre s pace, good articulation, audience rapport and sheer enjoyment of the entire romp.

Director Peter Sowerbutts has achieved all this, a cross between Wilde and Coward via clowning and verbal gymnastics.

It's a hit. A superb night out.

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