Skip to main content

The Duck House at the Vaudeville Theatre, London

From the moment Ben Miller strides onto the stage of the Vaudeville and delivers a concise and funny introduction to proceedings, I got the uncanny feeling that I was going to like this play. A lot.

Written by Dan Patterson (Mock the Week) and Colin Swash (Have I Got News For You and Private Eye), this is a comedy (read farce) of the highest order. Set in May 2009, that wonderful time when our beloved MP's were exposed as the expenses villains we now know them as, this is near the knuckle stuff. The early part takes great joy in creating comedy from what we now know, lampooning many that were later to be in government in a very knowing and very funny way.

The lead roll of MP on the turn Robert Houston is played with delicious exuberance by Ben Miller, when needed, channeling the supreme reaches of an out of control Basil Fawlty, while still being able to deliver those so subtle jokes so well. He just seems not only perfect for the role, but totally enjoying it. Making it all the better for us.

Having seen Miller on television a great deal, none of this is really a surprise. Simon Shepherd though for me was a standout surprise. Very much more familiar for serious roles, his part in this as Sir Norman Cavendish is a revelation. Giving his all, especially in his hysterical second act performance, he really was the surprise of the play.

The rest of the cast were unfamiliar to me (yes even Diana Vickers, what is The X-Factor?!?) but without a shadow of a doubt all are superb. Off the four Debbie Chazen is the best (Add Russian accent "Hello"); sadly very much underused in the second act, as Russian housekeeper Ludmilla. Pretty much stealing every scene she appears in, she is a delight.

That is not to detract from the remaining three performers, with Nancy Carroll superb as the technophobe wife Felicity Hoffman, and James Musgrave pulling off several costumes with style and verve, yes even that *spoilers* suit as son Seb. Diana Vickers has less to do as Seb's girlfriend Holly, only appearing in the second act, but having a "hard hitting" role and the best costume of the show, even more than that *spoiler* suit. Although I may be biased in that.

The set is perfect also, with the first act being very much a farce set, standard living room laden with goods (not sure who paid for them), while the second act set is bang on and neatly presented at the start by a startled Miller.

There is no question that if it is humanly possible for you to get to see this play then you should. Some of the funniest moments you are likely to see this year (or next), be it TV, film or theatre. Featuring the best acupuncture joke I have ever heard, the best use of a *spoiler* suit ever, impressive use of dairy product in a running gag and a cast performance from the gods. Please stop reading this and go and buy a ticket will you, but I am afraid that you are paying...

The Duck House is on at the Vaudeville Theatre, London until March 29th 2014.
www.vaudeville-theatre.co.uk/The-Duck-House.html


Popular posts from this blog

Review of Touching The Void at Royal & Derngate (Royal), Northampton

For those unfamiliar with this story, this review tells more than you might want to know ahead of seeing it. So, the short review for those who don't know the story of Joe Simpson, go and see this play and then come and read this review if you wish.

Staging the 1985 tale of Joe Simpson and his somewhat unbelievable, if it wasn't true, escape from surviving three days without food and water, a 150 foot fall previous, and following breaking his leg a previous, previous, seems an insurmountable challenge, but with the clever work of writer David Greig, director Tom Morris, and designer Ti Green and the rest of the creative team, we manage during a long and pulsating evening of theatre to reach that peak.

Following a short sequence of flashes of what is to come, we join Simon (Edward Hayter), Richard (Patrick McNamee) and Sarah (Fiona Hampton) at the wake of Joe Simpson, imagined for the stage and a neat way of introducing us to the story. Here Sarah, Joe's sister becomes the …

Review of the University Of Northampton BA (Hons) Acting Graduate Showcase at Leicester Square Theatre, London

The Graduate Showcase was pretty exciting even for me, so heaven knows how it was for the actors actually taking part. Here I was in a gathering of around twenty people (all others infinitely more important than me) at a special closed event at a West End theatre, complete with free drinks and buffet. Fortunately I had Mr Jim aka @mudbeast76 to keep me on the straight and narrow of juices after the one alcoholic one went straight to the head drink. Then as if it wasn't a surreal world as it was, there only goes and walks in Lukewarm himself, Christopher Biggins!

However, this isn't about me, this is about the thirty six ultra talented individuals who after I have followed them for a bit over a year are about to venture forth into the big competitive world of the acting community. They have though the double advantage of not only coming through the excellent three years University Of Northampton training and also being rather talented to help them in this.

This being my first s…

Review of Benidorm Live at Milton Keynes Theatre, Milton Keynes

I arrived at Milton Keynes Theatre to see this touring stage version of ITV comedy hit Benidorm with a distinct lack of knowledge. Having never seen the show, my information stretched as far as knowing it was set in a holiday resort in Spain (the title helps there), and that the humour generally resorted to the cruder end of the spectrum. However, having graced the screens for ten years, it was clear that Derren Litten's show had garnered quite a following, and indeed it was clear from the reception of the audience on the night, that this following was pretty much filling the theatre.

The plot, such as it is for this stage show, is very much drafted from an episode of Fawlty Towers, and made a great deal more adult with its humour. The hotel manager, Joyce Temple-Savage (a sharp performance by Sherrie Hewson) gets wind that a hotel inspector is in, and the scene is set for seeking them out and all the obvious cases of mistaken identity. It's thin and doesn't fill the show,…