THE 2013 summer season at Bath Theatre Royal ends with a hilarious bang in Lindsay Posner’s production of the farce A Little Hotel on the Side by Feydeau and Desvallieres, in a timeless adaptation by John Mortimer.
Performed on Michael Taylor’s inventive set, which makes full use of the theatre’s revolve, this is the classic French farce, complete with thwarted assignations, mistaken identity, unhappy marriage, pratfalls and fallen trousers.
Richard McCabe is in sparkling form as M Pinglet, unhappy with his statuesquely stentorian wife, played with gusto by the wonderful Hannah Waddingham (who, as Chichester audiences know, hates men) and lusting after his pretty neighbour, wife of his asexual best friend Paillardin.
BOVTS graduate Luke Newberry is Paillardin’s philosophy-mad nephew, and Debbie Chazen is Victoire, the chambermaid who changes his view of life.
Then there is Mathieu, a poor widower from Dieppe who has been taken in by an empty reciprocal promise of hospitality from the arrogant Pinglets, and turns up at the wrong moment with his four daughters.
For inexplicable reasons they all (well, most of them) end up at The Free Trade Hotel, where trade is both free and very expensive, and presided over by the ancient Bastien – a beautiful cameo from Richard Wilson.
The timing is perfection and the laughs excruciatingly predictable, and even funnier for that.
I’m no lover of farce, but this show is a real tonic and performed with just the right amount of conviction by a terrific ensemble.