Theater Review: Comic performances add fun to No Sex
By Jim Lowe
Staff Writer | April 06,2013
Northern Stage photo
Peter (Dane Dandridge Clark), top, finds his wife Frances (Alexis Hyatt) and colleague Brian (Scott Cote) in a compromising position in Northern Stage’s “No Sex Please, We’re British.”
WHITE RIVER JUNCTION – When boxes of pornography begin arriving – instead of the Swedish glassware that was ordered – at the home of newlyweds Peter and Eleanor Hunter moments before the mother-in-law – and Peter’s boss – panic ensues, followed by 90 minutes of comic chaos.
Northern Stage opened a fast-paced, terribly funny production of “No Sex Please, We’re British,” Friday at the Briggs Opera House. The comic timing at Thursday’s preview wasn’t always perfect, but it did enjoy some particularly fine comic performances.
Written by Alistair Foot and Anthony Marriott, “No Sex Please, We’re British” opened London’s West End in 1971 to bad reviews but continued to play to full houses until 1987. Its Broadway run in 1973, however ran for only 16 performances.
Still, “No Sex Please” – closer to the Three Stooges on the comic spectrum than George Bernard Shaw – played to raucous and enthusiastic laughter at Thursday’s preview performance.
Northern Stage’s success came from expert comic direction by Catherine Doherty and some particularly fine comic acting. The biggest problem, though, was an unbelievable and dated script.
Scott Cote nearly stole the show as Peter’s bank colleague Brian Runnicles, whose every effort to help the beleaguered couple results in disaster for all. Cote is one of those fine comic actors whose every word and move is funny – he even looks funny.
The reasons Cote didn’t steal the show were Kathryn Kendall as the mother-in-law Eleanor and the man she is lusting after, Peter’s boss Leslie Bromhead, played by Tom Treadwell. The bawdy interaction between the two was priceless – authentic, ribald and very, very funny.
Alexis Hyatt and Dane Dandridge Clark were charmingly exasperated – and soon to desperate – as the couple Frances and Peter Hunter. Their performances were more sympathetic than funny, balancing the aforementioned characters.
The supporting characters, unfortunately felt just like that, with a noticeable chasm between them and the main characters.
Doherty’s comic expertise was evident in the success of some rather complex – and terribly funny – physical comedy. At Thursday’s performance, though, the comic timing wasn’t always spot-on, but this should change by the time folks read this.
The physical production represented Northern Stage’s traditionally high standards. The beautiful multi-doored seat – a staple of this kind of comedy – was by Kimberly Powers, expertly lit by Cory Pattak. Attractive and sometimes silly ‘70s costumes were by Laurie Churba Kohn.
Northern Stage’s “No Sex Please, We’re British” is good, silly – and bawdy – fun.
Northern Stage presents “No Sex Please, We’re British,” the farce by Alistair Foot and Anthony Marriott, April 3-21 at the Briggs Opera House, 4 S. Main St. in White River Junction. Curtain is at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, 5 p.m. on Sunday, plus a 2 p.m. matinee Thursday, April 11. Tickets are $60-$15, $58-$13 for seniors, $55-$10 for youth; call 802 296-7000, or go online to www.northernstage.org.