9 January 2011

Once Bitten fills the Orange Tree with laughter

I have been slightly less positive than usual about this season at the Orange Tree so it is a pleasure to say that Once Bitten is a hoot and a complete triumph.

Once Bitten is a French Farce that has all the features you would expect, and some you might not, including, mistresses, lost trousers, many doors with many passages through them, a hectoring mother-in-law, an over confident commissioner of the police, false names, and a dead dog.

The Orange Tree is the ideal stage for this with each of the four corners acting as doors to other rooms with the actors rushing through them with great regularity in their desperate attempts to get away from somebody who is about to enter through another door.

A good farce needs a large cast and this is another strength of the Orange Tree. It's good to see regular David Antrobus in the lead role and equally good to see the quirky support roles played so well, e.g. the useless maid and the sleepy uncle.

Once Bitten is a reasonably complex farce and you have to keep your wits about you to remember who is pretending to be who and why. It's this complexity that drives the humour, as it should in a farce, and there is a lot of it.

The only way to judge a comedy is by the laughter and the Orange Tree was full of it.

The word has got around that the play is good and the theatre is packed, so much so that I was forced to take the unusual step of getting a seat upstairs.

I much prefer to be in the front row downstairs to be close to the action in the emotional drams but this farce can be seen just as well from upstairs.

And it should be seen, upstairs or down this is a real treat.

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