From the moment the curtain opens on The Hospital Player’s 215th production, “Caught in the Net”, the laughter begins and, apart from the interval, it continues until the end. This Ray Cooney farce, first performed 17 years ago still retains it’s ability to amuse and entertain when performed so ably by this locally renowned theatrical troupe.
The story centers around one John Smith, a bigamist and taxi driver, who has been maintaining two separate, unsuspecting households for the last 18 years. One with his wife Mary and daughter Vicki in Wimbledon and the other with his wife Barbara and son Gavin, conveniently located a short taxi drive away in Streatham. All has been twin marital bliss it seems until now. Now he fears his pasts are catching up with him as his son and daughter have met up in an internet chatroom, have hit it off and now plan to visit each other. They are surprised and amused that their “father’s” both share the same name, birth date and occupation but have no idea of the chaos that is about to ensue.
Fortunately, John has a long suffering lodger, Stanley, at his Wimbledon residence who he enlists to help him keep the two families from realising they share the same John Smith.
Jake West plays the role of this reluctant and put upon lodger and he does an excellent job. All he wants to do is take his doddering old dad away for a seaside break but he is forced to pile elaborate lie upon lie in order to protect his friend. He is hilarious as the feckless slacker whose involvement in John’s dilemma is not always helpful. He is at the centre of almost everything that happens on stage which must take a lot to learn, not only in terms of the script but also movement and he carries it off admirably.
This is classic farce with much opening, shutting and slamming of doors but the set worked very well. Well designed, bright and cheery it must be quite a challenge as one set does for both homes but the cast moved around it quite naturally and with ease.
Adam Brown as John Smith, the taxi-driving bigamist, does a fine job of depicting various states of exhaustion while rushing from one home to another.
The two Mrs. Smith’s are finely portrayed. As Mary, Melanie Mason starts out as a dutiful housewife who becomes more and more unhinged as a result of being locked in various rooms and suspecting her lodger is a right weirdo. Jan Gregory’s Barbara is mostly oblivious to the chaos around her but often confused and frustrated by her inability to contact her wandering husband on the phone.
The two youngest members of the cast acquit themselves very well as two average teens who can’t understand why their father doesn’t want them to meet. It is difficult to believe that these are their debut performances for The Hospital Players. Jake Bailey playing Gavin Smith and Emily Burnham playing Vicki Smith gave good,solid performances and I suspect we will be seeing them perform again in the very near future.
In Act two we have the pleasure of meeting Stanley’s old dad played by Graham Wells. He exits and enters zinging his many one-liners with apparent ease. Most of the time, seemingly lost to reality, he brings a saucy and fresh irreverence to the plot as he tries to work out what the heck is going on in the seaside hotel he believes his son has brought him to visit.
Myself and my 16 year old daughter thoroughly enjoyed this laughter filled performance. All the players gave 100% and it was put together wonderfully by directors Jan Gregory and Ann Brown.
Caught in the Net runs until Saturday 29th April at The Plowright Theatre, Scunthorpe and if you fancy a night of rib tickling frivolousness then I suggest you buy a ticket.
Buy Tickets here £10