Full Circle, starring Joan Collins

JOHN LAWSON Norwich Theatre Royal

JOHN LAWSON

Larger-than-life characters are the basis of farce so Joan Collins is ideally placed to star as French novelist Denise Darvel in Alan Melville's 50-year-old adaptation of an original Parisian comedy.

She heads a cast of veteran character actors and bright young hopefuls in a suitably implausible tale of a mother who reveals to her three children that all of them have different fathers, the result of a hat-trick of passionate flings, and that the man they had all believed was their father gazing down upon them from a picture on the wall was simply an anonymous portrait bought from a seaside art gallery.

But with two of her children planning to marry into a socially climbing family, Denise believes she must marry to make her suitable as a mother-in-law.

And, this being a farce, the obvious choice of suitor is one of her trio of erstwhile lovers – upperclass twit Sir Michael (the beautifully bewildered John Quayle); eccentric musician Jan Letzaresco (a suitably over-the-top Nickolas Grace) and French ne'er-do-well Dominque, suavely played by Gary Raymond.

On Hugh Durrant's sumptuous set, all three obediently turn up to fight over her – and to meet their respective children for the first time.

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The denouement is equally unlikely, but one imagines that the subject of such unashamed “free love” and illegitimacy must have been quite shocking when it was originally written.

Chief among the onlookers is loyal maid Marthe (the ever-batty Sheila Bernette) as La Collins sweeps across the stage, ruling the roost in a series of frocks which would have graced any episode of Dynasty.

It is a part ideally suited to her and she provides full value throughout.

t Full Circle continues at Norwich Theatre Royal until Saturday June 12. Further information from www.theatreroyalnorwich.co.uk or the box office on 01603 630000.

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