A political romp is now in rehearsal as Newick Amateur Dramatic Society prepares to present its 2013 winter production Out of Order, due on stage at Newick Village Hall from December 4 to 7.
Politically inspired, the piece is the work of Ray Cooney, who learned his trade in Brian Rix’s celebrated Whitehall farces – all boxer shorts, sock suspenders and slamming doors – in the 1950s and ’60s.
First played in 1990 with Donald Sinden and Michael Williams in the leading roles, Out of Order enjoyed a long run at London’s Shaftesbury Theatre, and won a Laurence Olivier “Comedy of the Year” award.
Cooney penned 22 plays that established a reputation for combining British bawdiness and structural complication, with characters often talking at cross-purposes, jumping to wrong conclusions, and feeling obliged to pretend matters were not quite as they actually were.
Recognised in the UK as the “master of farce”, a “national treasure” and worthy heir to the legendary comedic playwright Ben Travers, Cooney is also much admired in France, where he is known as “Le Feydeau Anglais”, a reference to the Gallic farceur, Georges Feydeau.
Cooney’s works – with frisky, nudge-nudge titles such as Wife Begins at Forty, Why Not Stay for Breakfast? and Not Now, Darling – have been translated into more than 40 languages, filling theatres around the planet. Thus he ranks alongside William Shakespeare as the only other English playwright to have a production staged in a major city somewhere, every week for the past 53 years.
Out of Order sees the suave Richard Wyllie and Jane Worthington planning an amorous evening together at a smart Westminster hotel near Parliament.
However, Richard is a junior government minister, and Jane works for the leader of the opposition. They most definitely don’t want to be discovered, at the very least for fear of scurrilous tittle-tattle about pillow-talk.
Their tryst quickly heads for disaster when they discover a body trapped in an unreliable sash window. As Richard shouldn’t be with the young lady in the first place, he can’t report the body to either the hotel management or the police.
Things descend rapidly from bad to worse when he enlists the aid of his innocent PPS (parliamentary private secretary) George Pigden to help him talk his way out of the predicament. Among those conspiring in the ensuing mayhem are the hoity-toity hotel manager, a waiter on the make, and others...