Review: A Little Hotel on the Side at theTheatre Royal, Bath, 8 out of 10 by Gerry Parker
SINCE it was first presented in 1894 in Paris this play by the master of Farce Georges Feydeau in conjunction with Maurice Desvallieres has undergone many metamorphoses including a film version starring Alec Guinness and Gina Lollobrgida.
This adaptation has the benefit of a witty script by John Mortimer which adds a wealth of verbal humour to go with the traditional farcical comedy moments. This shows up, particularly well in the first act, where, like all good farces, the comic situations are set up. Act 2, which took us into the seeded Free Trades Hotel, where several couples are looking for an illicit night's love-making, for all the laughs it generated would have bene- fitted from more inventive, and a greater amount, of comedy business.
Director Lindsay Posner, who kept the action flowing at a merry pace throughout was guilty in this act of shamefully underusing the comedy talents of Richard Wilson, Britain's favourite old grouch Victor Meldrew, in the role of the curmudgeonly hotel owner.
In the third act he and the company hit the farcical comedy nail right on the head with Richard McCabe and Natalie Walter feverishly twisting and turning like fish on a hook in order to keep their attempted infidelities secret from their respective other halves, Hannah Waddington's wonderfully statuesque uncompromising wife and Robert Portal's self- opinionated husband.
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This quartet, along with Tom Edden's cleverly portrayed stuttering father of four bubbling daughters, and Debbie Chazen and Luke Newberry representing the younger generation of would-be lovers, sailed perilously near to caricature at times, but never quite overstepping the mark. They ensured that a visit to this Little Hotel on the Side was one that made you laugh out loud many times during the evening and sent you home with a smile on your face.