Comedy masters rescue overlong farce

Business Affairs @ Theatre Royal, Norwich

Business Affairs @ Theatre Royal, Norwich

By CHARLES ROBERTS

This is one of those plays that cries out for a ruthless blue pencil, a half-hour cut and a quarter-hour of brisk new material to keep the thing flying.

Because this honestly vulgar sex farce by John Chapman and Jeremy Lloyd does some engagingly funny high-flying, fuelled by neat one-liners, suggestive visual gags, belly-laughing double-entendres and some snappy comedy playing from two masters of their craft, Gorden Kaye and Ken Morley.

Two Huddersfield businessmen have hired a classy London suite, and what they hope will be two classy tarts, to entertain two Continental entrepreneurs set on buying out the Brits. Initially, tarts fail to appear – and the Huddersfield lads' po-faced wives step into the breach... to reveal sides of their characters their spouses have never suspected.

Upon this “plot” hangs a two-hour show. Still, it puts on their mettle Morley and Kaye, as the North Country duo. The former is as sprightly and quick off the mark as a music hall stand-up comedian, with that effortless ability to make an audience hoot with laughter almost before he's opened his mouth.

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The second is splendidly laid-back, with the hang-dog face of a vegetarian bloodhound – yet whose interjections and asides, immaculately timed, slide in with quicksilver effect.

There's a sound cast overall, with understudy Carol Harrison stepping in as one of the northern wives with cool confidence.

Director is John B Hobbs, whose work is light on movement and visual flow, but strong on making the most of sexy comedy.

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