Review: Last of the Red Hot Lovers

A trio of attempted affairs by nice but dull Barney Cashman are the building blocks of this comedy opener for the Sheringham summer rep drama season. The audience squirms and chuckles as the hapless chap uses his mum's Manhattan apartment as the venue for his doomed-to-failure assignations.

Sheringham Little Theatre

A trio of attempted affairs by nice but dull Barney Cashman are the building blocks of this comedy opener for the Sheringham summer rep drama season.

The audience squirms and chuckles as the hapless chap uses his mum's Manhattan apartment as the venue for his doomed-to-failure assignations.

Doomed? Why? Because his burning desire to liven up his life attracts fellow misfits like moths to a flame.

Nick Earnshaw milks the pathos and gags from the central role, while his dalliances provide superb vehicles for his supporting actresses - Keely Beresford as the cold wisecracking serial philanderer Elaine, Romily Turner as pot-smoking paranoic trouble-magnet actress Bobbi, and Madeleine Brolly as Jeanette the depressed pill-popping best friend of Barney's wife.

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You cannot fault the performances of a talented cast and the shafts of clever cutting humour in the script.

But I was not alone in the audience in struggling to really enjoy the play itself.

Its groundhog day repetitive nature of the three affairs charts Barney's transition from scared first timer cheat to fizzing champagne-wielding womaniser is key to the story - but begins to grate.

The pace only really picks up in the shorter second half, and the scenery seems to shout cottage in North Norfolk rather than apartment in New York.

The 1960s setting and issues seem a bit dated and the play may have been at the 'pot' too - as it switches schizophrenically between moments of slapstick farce and deep moralising.

Suicidal Jeanette reveals her life enjoyment factor has been ranked at 8.2 per cent. After this show mine was not that bad, but was only hovering around the half way mark.

Theatrically you cannot fault it. But whether a story of broken women and a dull losser is the stuff of holiday season theatre remains to be seen. It runs until July 9 and again from July 27 to August 2.

Richard Batson

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