Monday, May 22, 2017

"No Sex Please--We're British" Equals "Yes Please, Go See It"

With a stiff upper lip and all that, according to a 2014 questionnaire conducted by the British Council, British people are most recognized for their good manners, sense of humor, love of alcohol, pride in their country and unappetizing cuisine. And when it comes to "How's your Father," it is definitely not simply a person's gender and most Britons take more than a hot-water bottle with them when they say "I'm Off To Bedfordshire!" So, we can pretty much slam the door on the farcical idea implicated by the play's title, "No Sex Please--We're British"--Now riotously showing at the James F. Dean Theatre.

Written by Anthony Marriott and Alistair Foot, the play starts with blissful newlyweds Peter and Frances Hunter returning from their honeymoon to start their life together. Peter works as an assistant bank manager and the happy couple is allowed the benefit of living in a flat above the bank. The craziness begins when Frances innocently orders what she believes to be Scandinavian glassware, but the delivered package turns out to be pornographic photos. Peter could lose his job if Mr. Bromhead, the bank director, was to find out, but even worse, it is an offense that could lead to "Her Majesty's Pleasure" (British slang for being incarcerated).

Complicating things even more, Peter's mother, Eleanor, arrives with an imperiled bouquet of flowers in hand to stay for a few days. The conservative couple is hard pressed to get rid of the pornography in the least unobtrusive way possible, but their ensuing efforts turn out otherwise. Peter's colleague, Brian Runnicles, hesitantly accepts the task to get rid of the unwanted paraphernalia and botches things up royally. Again, Peter and Frances must deal with another delivery, this time pornographic films along with trying to retrieve a bank check mistakenly sent to the company. Then, Mr. Bromhead shows up and shortly after, the police superintendent, but the parade of visitors doesn't end there. A soon to be drugged bank inspector named Mr. Needum arrives asking to be put up for the night, who then was followed up by two call girls sent by the Scandinavian company, and the real shambolics begin right in full view of Her Majesty's castle.

No stranger to the play, JC Conway worked the show years ago with a professional theater company in Sanford, N.C. JC worked his magic once again with the assistance of Courtney Daniel, Executive Director, for this Flowertown production. The cast was well picked with some rarely seen faces as well as a first-timer on the Summerville stage. The well suited cast was stoked up on opening night and put in a great performance.

In the play, Peter Hunter insanely transforms from a proper English gentleman into a person seriously in need of a Xanax once the cat is out of the box or more bluntly, the unwanted pornography is unboxed, and Steve Tarnow does a superb job conveying his characters ballooning anxiety Monty Python style to the delight of his approving audience. Frances seems to take things in stride, most of the time, but her discomfort with Eleanor's presence is quite clear and Victoria Hartshorn adeptly communicates that angst with relevant body language and facial expressions. As a couple, they were spot on believable.

Susie Hallatt as Eleanor Hunter was enchanting. Her muddled accent reminded me of Jean Adair and Josephine Hull in the 1944 film "Arsenic and Old Lace." Hallatt's timing at the most inappropriate time was impeccable to the dismay of the snookered couple. I've got a secret Leslie Bromhead, Eleanor's potential love interest, was astutely performed by Fred Maidment. Veteran Barry Gordon, an actor who has played again and again many roles through his years with the Flowertown Players, filled the role of nosey and undeterred Superintendent Paul and Mr. Needum was portrayed by David Hallatt. David, who looked and sounded more like the Santa Claus from "Miracle on 34th Street," was quite amusing in some of the plays more sexually sticky situations initiated upon the arrival of Susan (Jacey Pruitt) and Barbara (Nicole Harrison)--the call girls sent to Frances and Peter's flat above the bank who provided the eye candy and revealed one of the plays most telling and scandalous surprises.


And, then there was Eddie Duncan as Brian Runnicles--a character whose name fits the part because he does a lot of running around from place to place and through slamming door after slamming door. From the moment he entered the play to the moment he attempted a crashing exit, Duncan was outstanding, although, and this is probably difficult for Eddie who has been blessed with a perpetual boyish grin, he should display less of a smirk and more of a stressed expression to the problematic tasks he hesitantly volunteers for and experiences. I give him a ten for his perfect vault through...well, I will leave it there on that incomplete bit of revelation. It is a scene you do not want to miss.

The set was well done and functional to the action with two stories, steps, multiple doors, and a pivotal pull down wall that separated the kitchen from the living room. No pageantry in this one, the costumes were suitable threads applicable to the plays time and storyline.

There is a lot more to the title "No Sex Please--We're British" than meets the eye. The British reputation for being reserved is not without merit, but throw a spattering of sexuality into the mix and the lines get somewhat blurred, of which the cast competently through all of Anthony Marriott and Alistair Foot's crescendo of chaotic scenes hilariously shed some light on. It's a show that would make Benny Hill proud and will leave you gobsmacked.

133 S Main St, Summerville, SC
(843) 875-9251
May 19, 20, 25, 26 and 27, 2017 at 8PM, May 21 and 28, 2017 at 3PM
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