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Review of Not Now Darling by Moulton Players at Moulton Theatre, Northampton

It is safe to say that the performance of Not Now Darling by Moulton Players didn't go quite as smoothly as we or no doubt they hoped, however despite everything, it still resulted in a highly entertaining evening.

Released in 1967, Not Now Darling is a full out farce from Ray Cooney and John Chapman and does everything expected of it. Bawdy, sexist and more than a little chaotic, it really is an impressively funny play, albeit a rather silly premise. However that is farce for you.

For the best part this production currently on at Moulton Theatre delivers the goods. However for a farce to gel perfectly it has to be delivered with style and a tremendous pace, and unfortunately for this third night performance, a large number of prompts were required. This unfortunately distilled it a little, losing a few of those perfectly timed jokes into the bargain. Having said this, the mishaps offered moments of brilliance of their own, Ken Francis as Arnold Crouch successfully spun a prompt into a reminder from his secretary, much to the amusement of cast and audience. As was a late telephone ring smoothly handled by Robert Valentine as Harry McMichael. It is hard to tell where the blame lies, however because there was no single offender on the lines, my belief is perhaps it being a little unrehearsed. There certainly seemed to be a few places where scenes were stumbling quite a lot, even those without prompts.

Having said all this negative comment, it was as I said entertaining. There was some great characterisation going on. Particularly from the leads Ken Francis and Lee Winston (Gilbert Bodley). Winston confident as the womanising character and Francis as the put upon partner, they made a great double act and often saved many of the scenes from total collapse. Sure we want a bit of free flowing madness in a farce, but at times, this was pushing it a tad. Also without question having great fun as Janie McMichael was Ellen Hobday, all fur coat and, well this is a farce, you get the picture. One other from the cast for special mention, is Jill White's bombastic Mrs Frencham, often portraying the bold as brass character that at times, you wished some of the other performers would create.

So yes, this was the least smooth amateur show I have seen, but if this is the worst, it perhaps doesn't matter. I and the audience had a great time with this entertaining production which did include some nice performances. However simply put, this could have been quite a lot better and if it had, it would have been a heck of a brilliant show as the foundations that were on display promised much. Fun and disappointing in equal measure.

Performance reviewed: Wednesday 12th October, 2016 at the Playhouse Theatre, Northampton

Not Now Darling runs at the Moulton Theatre, Northampton until Saturday 15th October, 2016.

For full details of the Moulton Theatre visit their website at http://moultontheatre.com/

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