Saturday, 30 October 2010

2 into 1 - Review (5)

Henley Standard Review by  Nicky Clarke
SONNING has always held a special place in my heart, I love the quaint village, the beautiful hotels and of course the river. Positioned in the heart of the village is the Mill, and having passed it too many times to mention, I have never had the opportunity to visit until recently. In 20 years of driving past and wondering it was a real treat to sample the whole “dinner theatre experience”. It is rare that somewhere exceeds your expectations, but the Mill at Sonning certainly exceeded mine.
The ambience and warmth of the building is instantly apparent as you step into this historic mill; the therapeutic noise of the water wheel was the perfect background to enjoy a pre-dinner drink. Watching the wheel rotate under careful lighting was entertainment in itself, but the smell of the food drew us from the bar to the dining room.
Intimate seating amongst the beams was just perfect for my husband to enjoy his pork with crackling while I tucked into chicken supreme with fresh vegetables and all the trimmings. The food was as fine as the setting. After coffee we made our way to the theatre, smaller than I had anticipated — I felt that we were almost part of the set!
The set looked simple, but was later to get applause of its own. Set in the reception area of the Westminster Hotel, the colouring and d├ęcor was perfect. My knowledge of the play Two Into One, a comedy by Ray Cooney, was limited so I had no idea of what to expect.
It was fast and furious from the outset, the energy and enthusiasm of the actors took little time to infect the audience as we laughed from one scene to the next. Nick Wilton playing George was amazing, his body posture, expressions and whole stage presence deserve a special mention, and this small stout little fellow became more hilarious and attractive as the play progressed.
With clever use of language and how simple it is to misunderstand and misinterpret situations, Cooney creates a comical situation with just a handful of characters, quick costume changes and superb one-liners. The audience laughed from beginning to end.
The play was set in current political times and was very much up-to-date, with references to Clegg and Cameron.
It also mimics the hotel industry, with the stiff-upper-lipped manager, the foreign housekeeper and the tip-grabbing waiter. The Westminster staff are every bit as funny as the guests.
Applause came when the set was transformed from a reception area into two adjacent bedrooms where much of the action took place. Set designer Douglas Heap created two hotel suites, perfect in every detail down to the bedside lamp. They also played host to a number of doors which were to be slammed on many an occasion.
What a pleasure it was to have an evening just full of laughter!

Saturday, 23 October 2010

"Stenders" & "Scoop"

Back in EastEnders on Monday 25th at 8.00pm on BBC1
and in the second series of Scoop on Wednesday 27th at 5.15pm on CBBC

Friday, 22 October 2010

2 into 1 - review (4)

The Reading Chronicle
by Barrie Theobald

Despite recent promises made by the leaders of all the main political parties we regularly hear tales of MPs trying to conceal unsavoury parts of their private lives from the general public.
Certainly Richard Willey, played by Jeremy Gittins, needed to keep his affair with Jennifer, the Prime Minister’s secretary, played by Rebecca Reaney, under wraps and who better to assist him in that task than his bumbling yet trusty PPS George – a superb performance by Nick Wilton.
Things started to go wrong when the hotel could only accommodate the MP and his not-so-chaste wife, played by Elizabeth Elvin, in a room adjacent to the one reserved for his illicit carryings-on.
Gales of laughter swept the theatre as those involved in this fast-moving comedy try to prevent a hotel manager (Brian Godfrey), a knowing waiter (Harry Gostelow), and a puritanical Labour MP (Sally Hughes) from discovering what was really going on.
This must rank as one of the best comedies at The Mill at Sonning in recent years, with excellent sets and a laugh-a-minute dialogue.
If you haven’t booked tickets yet, do so before this superb production ends on Saturday, November 27.

2 into 1 - Review (3)

Oxford Times review
by Christopher Gray
Veteran farceur Ray Cooney has assisted The Mill in the thorough updating of Two into One, his 1981 rib-tickler on political life, to take account of the election — sorry, non-election — of the Cameron-Clegg coalition and even the arrival of a new Labour leader. “Nothing can go wrong,” says one character, with the misplaced confidence that is so much a feature of farce. Another replies: “That’s what Ed Miliband told his brother.” The play remains a recognisably accurate portrait of the Parliamentary scene, though Cooney stretches credibility beyond breaking point, I fear, with the absurd notion — a central conceit in the plot — that a Tory politician could possibly be sharing his hotel bedroom with a man in his twenties.
The steady build-up of humour in this production is brilliantly achieved by the cast, under director Ron Aldridge. Just when you think the situation cannot get any dafter, another delicious improbability occurs to keep the laughter coming.
At the centre of the fun is a bungling parliamentary private secretary George Pigden (the admirable Nick Wilton) who is recruited by his boss Richard Willey (Jeremy Gittins) to assist in arranging a tryst with a tasty married secretary, Jennifer Bristow (Rebecca Reaney).
Urged to book a hotel suite under the assumed name of Sir Charles Easter, he instead manages to register as Dr Noel Christmas, under which unlikely name he goes on to become involved in all sorts of madcap capers. An extra dimension to the plot is introduced when he becomes the object of amorous attentions by his boss’s wife, Pamela (Elizabeth Elvin).
For reasons that I cannot begin to explain, it also appears that the versatile Pigden is having a gay affair with a tea boy, Ted, from the Foreign Office. On cue comes the arrival of Mrs Bristow’s husband — the conveniently named Edward (Neil Andrew) — ready (stripped to his underpants) to be mistaken for this mythical young man.
As I indicated, the acting is all of the highest standard. Adding to the comic confusions are a frosty hotel manager (Harry Gostelow), a grasping waiter from the excellent Brian Godfrey, and a Spanish chambermaid (Lynette McMorrough) whose efforts to change the beds are regularly thwarted by their near-continuous use.
Finally, there’s a fine comic turn from the theatre’s artistic director Sally Hughes as a tough-cookie anti-porn parliamentary campaigner. If the play has one slight fault, though (and I hope that the hugely experienced Mr Cooney will forgive my telling him his business) it is that Lily Chatterton is not given quite enough to do.

Monday, 18 October 2010

2 into 1 - Review (2)

Another nice one...

One would think that Ray Cooney’s political farce would not sound at all appetising, but add sex and this becomes a theatrical rollercoaster of laughs, writes Martyn Jex.
Two into One is purely based around Richard Willey MP (Jeremy Gittins) attempt to arrange a rendezvous with the secretary of the P.M in a Westminster Hotel, while staying with his wife, but engaging his ever so brilliant bumbling aide into covering for him. Add into the mix, a hotel Manager, his staff and it becomes a classic comedy romp of double identities, double entendre, mayhem and confusion, which had this Thursday evening’s audience howling throughout. George Pidgen (Nick Wilton) the MP’s aide was a delight to watch, with pace, energy and the linchpin, was a superior master of comedy, and along with a superb cast it is definitely not a show to miss. With a brilliantly thought out set design and the intimacy of this great theatre, along with a superb atmosphere, I would truly recommend it as a great night out, Running until 27th November 2010.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

2 into 1 - Review

Nice review in The Stage...

STAGE Review by Sheila Tracy for "Two Into One"
Published Friday 15 October 2010

Ray Cooney, one of the most entertaining playwrights of our era, wrote this in 1981, long before the recent parliamentary scandals surfaced - but has brought it bang up to date with references to Cameron, Clegg and the coalition. The undoubted stars of this hugely entertaining production are Nick Wilton and the set, designed by Douglas Heap, which changes from the facade of a Westminster hotel to the reception area to the adjoining bedroom suites, complete with double beds and ample opportunity for the opening and shutting of doors as refuge is taken. Wilton is custom-made for the role of a willing parliamentary assistant, assigned by his boss, Conservative MP Dick Willey (trust Cooney), assiduously played by Jeremy Gittins, to book a room for an extra-marital fling with Rebecca Reaney as the PM’s secretary. Elizabeth Elvin gives a delightful performance as the MP’s giggly, gorgeous wife, whose charms prove to be almost the undoing of Wilton.The appearance of the morally correct Lilly Chatterton, trying to launch her anti-vice bill and determined to stamp out pornography in all its forms, gives Sally Hughes a splendid opportunity to pad up, wear a grey wig and remind us of a retired MP who has recently taken to the dance floor. Brian Godfrey is the hotel waiter, willing to oblige for a hefty tip, with Harry Gostelow as the puzzled hotel manager. Director Ron Aldridge gives free rein to Wilton to draw gales of laughter from a delighted audience.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Two Into One

Ooooh... only four days to go -
"Two Into One" opens at The Mill at Sonning
this Thursday, 14th October.

Doctor Who : Deimos

The fifth of my recordings for Big Finish is available at the end of October, with the second installment following in November.