Association of Community Theatre

Show Reviews October 2017


by Marc Camoletti adapted by Robin Howdon

Colne Dramatic Society


Directed by John Mills


This farce has been presented since 1991 and has been a very popular farce for many societies to perform in the intervening years. And it is a play that I have somehow missed until this presentation by Colne Dramatic Society,


A review of the play in The Guardian said, "Hurtling along at the speed of light, Marc Canoletti's breathtaking farce is a near faultless piece of theatrical invention. Within seconds we are drawn into a delicious web of marital treachery which accelerates with classic symmetry to an all-star denouement.“


And so it was on the opening night at the delightful Colne Little Theatre before a packed audience.


In a renovated French farmhouse, Bernard is hoping to send his wife, Jacqueline, to her mother's for the weekend, in the hope that he can spend the weekend with his mistress, Suzanne, a Parisian model. Bernard has hired a Cordon Bleu cook, Suzette, and as an alibi he has also invited his friend Robert to dinner.


While Bernard is upstairs, the telephone rings. Jacqueline answers; it is the Bon Appetit catering agency confirming Suzette is on her way, which alerts her that something is up. Then Robert calls and Jacqueline again answers. He tells Jacqueline he is spending the weekend, a fact unknown to her. As Robert and Jacqueline talk on the phone, it becomes obvious that they are having an affair.


Jacqueline tells Bernard her mother has the flu and that she has cancelled their visit. Bernard panics, so that when Robert arrives, he tells his friend about his affair with Suzanne. Since she is arriving at any minute, Bernard commands Robert against his will to tell Jacqueline that "Suzy" is his girlfriend.


While Bernard and Jacqueline are out buying groceries, Suzy arrives -- but it is the cook, not the mistress. Robert doesn't realise, and introduces Suzette as his girlfriend when Bernard and Jacqueline return. Bernard is furious because of the mix-up, and Jacqueline feels betrayed because she thought she was Robert's only mistress.


Bernard and Robert secretly talk to Suzette, and for extra money she agrees to play Robert's mistress. Suzanne arrives, alerted to the fact that she now has to play the cook. She is outraged but has no option but to play her part. When Jacqueline confronts Robert about Suzette, he avoids disaster by telling Jacqueline that Suzette is really his niece.


And so the evening was set in motion with cross-purpose dialogue creating verbal mayhem. It is to the credit of all the performers that every word was clearly enunciated so that the intricacies of the story could easily be followed. Because, as an audience, we were party to the intrigues of the players, the various misunderstandings were very, very funny.


Playing Bernard, Jacqueline's husband, Steve Cooke portrayed the harassed central character with just the right amount of bewilderment, opposite his wife, Jacqueline, played by Vivienne Mills who obviously revelled in her own subterfuge within the storyline. She really enjoyed every moment of playing one man off against another.

Robert, Bernard's friend and Jacqueline's lover, played by Jim Staton, was every inch the accountant going along with Bernard's story invention. Suzette,was the cook, coming into what was turning out to be a den of intrigue to play along with each side's own invention, earning herself 50 Euros with each twist and turn she was asked to play. Claire Conboy played this role for all it was worth, earning herself, by my reckoning, over 300 Euros into the bargain. Well done.


Suzanne, played with a lovely air of bewildered sophistication by Jackie Williamson, was highly amusing when brandishing a wooden spoon whisking a soufflé and obviously completely out of her depth as to the intricacies of a cooking a meal for a dinner party.


Paul Thomson played George, the husband of the real cook, Suzette, with just the right amount of swagger and machismo. The brief fight scene was very well done indeed, and his fist's connection with Robert's chin certainly looked very real indeed.


The set was magnificent. On such a small stage creating a converted French farmhouse was a masterpiece of design. The backdrop,seen through the window,was very well done,and I was amazed to be told it was a posterised photograph printed on sheets of paper. The costumes for the ladies were delightful, and the laundry bill for Bernard's shirts must be enormous, the number of times he got soaked.


As always with CDS, the properties were first rate with the set dressing appropriate for this country retreat.

This was an excellent opening play for the company's new season, and one which will certainly have delighted the audience.