Theatre Review: One For The Pot

Ray Cooney is a legend of British comic theatre, from the mid 60’s to the mid 90’s there was always a Ray Cooney farce playing somewhere in London’s West End. Mr Cooney is 87 years old and still going strong proving the old adage laughter is the best medicine.

By

Presented by The Therry Dramatic Society

Reviewed 31/10/2019

Ray Cooney is a legend of British comic theatre, from the mid 60’s to the mid 90’s there was always a Ray Cooney farce playing somewhere in London’s West End. Mr Cooney is 87 years old and still going strong proving the old adage laughter is the best medicine. He wrote One For The Pot in 1959 in collaboration with Tony Hilton and it heralded a career writing and producing farce in the tradition of Brian Rix’s Whitehall farces that made Ray Cooney a household name and he continues to write and produce to this very day.

One for the Pot opened at The Arts Theatre to a large and expectant audience. The show buzz in the foyer and the auditorium before the curtain went up left me in no doubt this audience had come out to be entertained. From the moment Maxine Grubel walked on stage we knew we were in for a fun night. The hustle and bustle of trying to find Jugg the butler (David Sinclair), hiding behind the screen having a sly one, aided and abetted by Cynthia Hardcastle (Francesca Zagajewska) left us in no doubt we were in for a good night in the theatre.

Brian Godfrey’s wheelchair-bound head of the household was a well-crafted buffoon of a man whose need to repay an old debt results in two hours of situation comedy that has been beautifully crafted by the pen of Ray Cooney and effortlessly brought to life by Jude Hines’ deft direction. Congratulations must be handed to Ms Hines to take over the direction of a show that you had no hand in casting, due to a set of circumstances outside anyone’s control, and to guide a cast through some very demanding action, choreography and demanding text – what a great job.

But, I digress. Simon Lancione’s Clifton Weaver was a bright, conniving presence with a particularly mercenary set of motives: a nicely judged performance. Greg Janzow makes a particularly likeable lawyer in love with what he obviously hopes will be a profitable liaison and makes his ineptitude endearing.

Pete Davies as Charlie Barnett is a lesson in acting. He supports and drives the action with what appears to be effortless ease – what a great performance. He is the pivot for all the action with David Sinclair and they work really well together to keep the action, and the comedy, zipping along.

Ashley Penny’s Winnie Wood is equal parts hysteria and pathos (the strength of great comedy). One minute she is in the depths of dissolute rejection followed by a tirade of OTT reaction which threatens to blow the theatre walls off. It’s a fine performance.

And – Last, but by no means least Ben Todd’s Hickory Wood – plus several others! Seamlessly transitioning from Hickory Wood to Hickory Wood (you had to be there), this man’s performance was excellent: sliding from accent to accent, role to role. Always being in charge of where he was in the piece; never getting his changes mixed up; his physical, emotional and accent changes were clear , concise and very funny.  And no matter how frantic the action got Ben Todd just got better.

An excellent set, designed by Paul Chinneididh and Jude Hines, had just the right amount of doors for a good farce, as always lit by an in-tune and clever, Richard Parkhill. Sandy Faithfull and Gillian Cordell have costumed the play beautifully and the sound design is a Ray Trowbridge triumph.

The reaction of the audience at the end of the show said it all for me. After a rapturous reception for the performance with some very loud cheering and yelling accompanying the curtain call, the lights came up on the auditorium and a very happy first night audience started chatting and laughing about the joyful rendition of a Ray Cooney farce that is 60 years old and still making us laugh.

A PS: Pam O’Grady’s choreography and the life injected into it by Francesca Zagajewska, Ben Todd and Peter Davies are a highlight of the show that has ensured I must visit my doctor tomorrow morning to fix my hernia – I laughed that much.

A fine ensemble performance with some very funny moments that entertained a very healthy first night audience; good to see a big turnout for a theatre show. Worth a visit for a good laugh.

Reviewed by Adrian Barnes

Venue: The Arts Theatre, 53 Angas St, Adelaide SA 5000

Season: Thursday 31 October – Saturday 2 November at 8pm
               Wednesday 6 to Saturday 9 November at 8pm
               Matinees: Saturdays 2 & 9 November at 2pm

Duration:  2 hours 30 mins including Interval

Tickets: Adult: $29.00, Concession $24.00, Student (17 and under) $14.00

Bookings: www.trybooking.com ( (24/7) 8410 5515 (from 12 noon ‘til late Mon-Sat)

Disclaimer: Brian Godfrey is the Arts Editor for Glam Adelaide and Simon Lancione is a Reviewer for Glam Adelaide

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