IF there’s one thing that Ray Cooney’s 1987 farce, It Runs in the Family, proves, it is that life in hospitals was a lot more fun in those days.
Set in the doctors’ common room at St Andrews Hospital, it’s a big day for Dr David Mortimore. For the rest of the staff and patients, Christmas is three days away and there are puddings to be made, a pantomime to be rehearsed and treatments to be administered.
Dr Mortimore is more single minded. He has the annual international lecture to deliver, and with it usually comes professional advancement and a knighthood. Sir Willoughby Drake, chairman of the hospital board, is on hand to help, and Dr Mortimore is on tenterhooks.
But the hooks get much tenterer with the arrival on Jane Tate, a former nurse at St Andrew’s, bearer not of Christmas gifts but a guilty secret.
As with all Cooney’s classic comedies, timing is everything, and everyone on stage has their moment.
In this sparkling production by Rachel Butcher and June Markham, the best of the Swan’s’ considerable comic talent is on stage and making the most of every single chance for a laugh.
Roger Mumford is the increasingly distraught Dr Mortimore, with Mark Rudd imperial as the crusty old Drake, and David Hallett the ever helpful Dr Bonney. Tanya Ogden’s elegant Mrs Mortimore, Liz Stallard’s confused police officer (great last precis speech!), and Rachel Butcher’s stupefied Matron, share their comic moments with Alison Maynard -Griffin as the surprise visitor, Jon Margetts as her yearning son, Ethan Taylor as daffy houseman Dr Connolly, Anne Lee as Sister, Ann Cook in the memorable cameo mother as Mrs Bonney and Andrew Middleton as Bill, relishing a day out of the dementia ward and finding himself wheelchair bound, in a madhouse.
It’s a very funny play, skillfully directed, perfectly timed and brilliantly brought to life. And it’s on until Saturday.