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REVIEW: Move Over Mrs Markham

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Move Over Mrs Markham,
The Mill at Sonning
Until June 2

IN THE days of cheap hotels and Air BnBs, the idea of borrowing a friend’s flat for some – ahem – entertaining seems quite quaint.

For Move Over Mrs Markham it’s critical to the plot.

The classic farce, by Ray Cooney and John Chapman, is the latest offering from The Mill and it has an impressive all-star cast.

It opened last Thursday to an audience that included one proud mother in the form of Dame Judi Dench, days before she gave a special Audience With … show.

She was there to support the talented Finty Williams, making a swift return to the Sonning theatre to play the title role of Mrs Markham.

Her on-stage husband, played by Mark Curry, towers over her, but by no means dominates – Finty has an impressive stage presence and an impressive instinct for comedy.

Curry, a former Blue Peter presenter, was famous for corpsing on children’s television – he played it straight on opening night, only once giving way to giggles as the audience’s loud and raucous laughter at the absurd momentarily caught up with him.

He is a joy to watch, as is Jeffrey Holland who plays a lusty old man who is looking to enjoy a passionate evening with the wife of Mr Markham’s business partner, Linda (Judy Buxton).
Holland was dressed in a bowler hat and black suit, echoing his amazing one-man tribute show to Stan Laurel.

An expert at comic timing, his appearance brought howls of laughter.

However, Linda’s rendezvous is in dangerous territory, as her husband Henry (Andrew Hall) wants to use the flat to catch up with a Miss Wilkinson (Rebecca Witherington).

If that wasn’t enough, the au pair (Una Byrne) is looking forward to an evening with interior designer Delme Thomas (Alistair Spenlow).

But plans go askew when Mr Markham discovers a love letter, which he assumes is to his wife from the interior designer. From small misunderstandings large farces grow.

Before you know it, there’s the lusty old man in the drinks cabinet, a blind date in the bathroom and a fusty old dear (Elizbaeth Elvin) being feted and encouraged in the lounge.
And with every moment comes another misunderstanding that pulls the plot along.

Cooney directs his players with aplomb, the exquisite 1970s set and costumes transport you back in time perfectly.

But importantly, the show is a joyous night out.

You’ll be laughing from the beginning and come out with sore sides as the farce builds to an impressive climax.

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Phil Creighton

Publisher of The Wokingham Paper

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