Submit your email address below to receive email updates from Cumbria24.
Dry Rot by John Chapman, Theatre by the Lake, Keswick
BRITISH theatre is renowned all over the world, but it’s not just for thought provoking Shakespeare, and more modern classics from writers such as Alan Bennett and Noel Coward. We also excel in the close cousin of the pantomime - farce, writes Karen Morley-Chesworth.
I know this genre of theatre divides friends and family. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but if you enjoy watching the re-runs of Abbott and Costello, Laurel and Hardy and the modern masters The Chuckle Brothers on TV, Dry Rot by John Chapman running this season at Theatre by the Lake is a must for you.
Like the comfortable British TV sitcom this style of drama fathered, Dry Rot is set firmly in middle England – though this is definitely a 1950’s version. The Wagstaff family returning to the homeland after service in India, buy a country house to run as a hotel. Add the element of conmen, Frenchman, sliding doors, hidden passages and a race horse and you have the ingredients of a performance to have children of all ages laughing hysterically.
My guilty pleasure is farce. Though I enjoy a really gritty play, I equally gain much delight from men’s trousers falling down, police officers getting their leg stuck in a hole caused by dry rot in the stairs and the hiding unconscious bodies around the home.
The double-act, Alfred Tubbe and Fred Phipps played by James Duke and Chris Hannon in this production is brilliant. Their timing and interplay makes them the stars of the show (and they do get all the best lines). Jessica Ellis as Beth, the local girl who they inherited with the house as the odd-job girl is also a brilliant character, and her physical humour is a joy to behold.
Once again the set and costume designers at Theatre by the Lake have excelled themselves and they transport you back to a rosy, mythical world of upper middle class 50’s.
Dry Rot is a classic farce and this is a classic performance running at Theatre by the Lake. It’s not Ibsen, but it is very funny. It’s wonderful to be in a theatre filled with giggles and laughter from all ages.
o Dry Rot by John Chapman, runs at Theatre by the Lake until November 9, 2012.