Happy Birthday – Miller Theatre Company – Caterham – Review

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Farce, it’s deemed by a good many as intellectually and aesthetically inferior to comedy or drama, but I agree with Ayckbourn, that “We often dismiss our light comedies and farces as trivia with nothing to say. With the successful ones, this is generally untrue.” The Miller Centre Theatre Company tend to put at least one on each season, and this year it was by Marc Camoletti, whose farce Boeing Boeing was a huge hit when it opened in 1962 and was successfully revived a few years ago in the West End (where I was fortunate enough to see it) and then toured the UK. That had been my only exposure to Camoletti’s work, so I was looking forward to seeing what Happy Birthday would be like.

As with any piece of theatre a tremendous weight lies with the cast, this is especially true with farce, where timing, looks and movement are everything. The cast of 5 dealt admirably with the task set before them, and the pace quickened throughout to its denouement. Special mention must go to Roberto Prestoni as Robert, who gave a superb “John Cleesesque” performance that brought great belly laughs from the audience. Gail Bishop too, as Brigit 1 also threw herself into her role and likewise got great reactions from the audience.

As a farce I really enjoyed this one, it’s similar to Boeing Boeing, I thought the final denouement was excellent, and look forward to seeing or reading more of Camoletti’s work.

Sharon Cox’s direction brought out the best of each of the cast and the set with all the necessary and numerous doors by Tony Dent was brilliant.

It’s good to go to the theatre, laugh lots and see absurdity presented as a reflection of the absurdity we all create in our lives, hopefully the absurdity I create is not as frantic as this though.


One thought on “Happy Birthday – Miller Theatre Company – Caterham – Review

  1. I saw Boeing Boeing on tour about 3 years ago, which might have been the same production as you, but it had been recast for the tour. There was a post-show discussion, and what I found particularly interesting was that the actors had literally been told how to play it. I know the exits, entrances and to some extent the blocking has to be carefully choreographed, but because of the short rehearsal time, they were basically told that the original cast had gone through all the trial and error processes and that *this* was the best way to play it. This emotion, this thought process, this gesture. The production hadn’t seemed to suffer for that approach, although I suppose none of them are characters that you invest in deeply as an audience, but my heart went out for those actors not being allowed to discover their characters for themselves.

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