If laughter is the best medicine then The Mill at Sonning will have its audiences fighting fit with its latest show It Runs in the Family.
Set in the doctors lounge of St Andrew’s Hospital, the comedy had the audience howling with laughter on opening night, barely letting them pause for breath before the next madcap scene.
A farce in every sense of the word, It Runs in the Family is as funny as it is silly, with plenty of innuendo, hilarious one liners and all the chaos and calamity you would expect from the master of farce, Ray Cooney.
The play begins with Dr David Mortimore (Harry Gostelow) rehearsing for a prestigious lecture he is due to give at the hospital. But he doesn’t get very far when former squeeze, Nurse Tate (Sarah Ogley), who he hasn’t seen for 18 years, arrives and drops a bombshell – he has a son. Desperate to keep the news from his wife Rosemary (Lynette McMorrough), and with his punk son Leslie (Sam Ruane) waiting in reception, Dr Mortimore begins a web of lies, which have a nasty habit of trying to catch up with him.
As with the usual complexities of a farcical plot, there are plenty of comings and goings, doors opening and closing, and cases of mistaken identity, and it is a brilliant cast which powers the engine of this comedy. The pace is fantastic and the cast drive it through from the word go, never letting the energy falter and creating a manic atmosphere, filled with hilarity.
Dr Mortimore enlists the help of Dr Bonney to cover up his lies and the duo make for a wonderful double act. With a touch of Basil Fawlty about him, Harry Gostelow is fantastic as Dr Mortimore, becoming increasingly exasperated as he tries to keep all his plates spinning. Dr Bonney becomes his fall guy, and Nick Wilton leaps and dances his ways through the production, drawing spontaneous applause from the audience as he becomes breathless with the effort.
Elizabeth Elvin makes for a saucy and silly matron, offering a kind of caricature reminiscent of the ‘Oo matron’ jokes from the Carry On era, while the supporting cast offer sprinkles of genius – John Arthur’s fantastic twitch as Sir Willoughby Drake, and Brian Hewlett’s outbursts of song as patient Mr Leslie.
Director Ron Aldrige really keeps the momentum going throughout It Runs in the Family, and there is some real wit drawn out amongst the more obvious gags.
It Runs in the Family is a fast and lively show, and with a cast as sprightly and energetic as this, I’ll take some of whatever medicine they’re having please!
It Runs in the Family is at The Mill at Sonning until 2 July. The Mill is a dinner theatre and a two-course meal, plus tea and coffee, is included in the ticket price. To book visit www.themillatsonning.com.
I was invited to press night so my tickets were complimentary but all views are my own.