See How They Run
Pier Theatre, Bournemouth

Star names will attract crowds to this old Philip King farce being presented by Paul Elliott at Bournemouth's Pier Theatre throughout the summer, but, unfortunately, it is not a vintage in which the scenario or script have effectively survived.

When written in 1944, the fact of a vicar's wife being an ex-actress doubtless promised hilarious consequences, especially as compounded with a trio of clergymen chasing each other around the vicarage hall. I recall much laughter when Claude Hulbert headed a company here in Bournemouth in 1957. However, 40 years on, the piece now offers no more than mild amusement.

Credit then to director Brian Hewitt-Jones and his experienced cast for exploiting every possible crumb of opportunity to maintain a humorous atmosphere.

With her considerable comedy expertise, Su Pollard ensures that frustrated parishioner Miss Skillon is an eccentric figure of fun, while Britt Ekland shows that international star status does not preclude keen participation in end of the pier fare - portraying the vicar's ex-actress wife, she strives as hard as anyone to keep this farce alive.

Perhaps Jeffrey Holland could appear a shade more twittery as the vicar, in extravagant contrast to the commanding presence of Victor Spinetti who, striding on to play the Bishop, temporarily steps up the action. But despite energetic skills from the principals together with Tim Marriott (Clive) and Hilary Minster (Intruder) supported by Stewart McLean (Reverend Humphrey), Rachel Clarke (Maid) and Nicky Bayly (Sergeant Powers), laughs are few.

Mostly, response is merely denoted by smiles although Alan Miller-Bunford's traditional set wins applause.

Christopher Day

The Stage
July 1998