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CHRISTOPHER SMITH Maddermarket Theatre, Norwich


> Maddermarket Theatre, Norwich

“All you can do is make jokes about,” complains one of the characters. Well, Noel Coward might well reply, there's not a lot of harm in that in a comedy. Besides, you can find socio-historical foundations to it all.

English class structure is staggering, American influence threatens, and, come to think of it, you might see that women are coming to the fore. But, of course, you don't really have to think about it, at least not too much. It is enough to remain alert to every innuendo in a comedy that exploits blatant contrivance in its determination to amuse.

The play suits the Maddermarket too.

So, on a single set that captures the spirit of a country house, we see first the butler, in the persuasive shape of Matthew Pinkerton. Picking his words and choosing his moments, he sees everything.

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Hugh Roberts is another ironic observer, keeping his distance and happy to give the pot a stir as things come up to the boil. Trevor Markworth looks the toff, his imposing height and immaculate style the perfect expression of privileged feebleness.

Adding to her responsibilities as director, Judi Daykin takes on the role of the matriarch. She rules the roost, adding humour to authority as she rescues her son from the dangers brought by modern times. They come in the form of Dawn Brindle's Miranda. Moxty, played with great verve by Sally Dixon, upsets her apple cart with amazing revelations, and a jaw-cracking change of accent.