Vaudeville Theatre, London WC2
Opened 29 August, 2001

** Tired farce that only exists because it's a sequel

Rule One: never ever bother with sequels written ten years or more after the original, especially if the original is Run For Your Wife

I know that, in general, farce isn't to my taste: too often the plots seem to me contrived, the jokes tired and the performances unsubtle. I know that Ray Cooney is acknowledged as one of the modern masters of the form, and that Run For Your Wife graced the West End for a geologic age. But even taking all these factors into account, Caught In The Net just seems stale and pointless.

The Net of the title is the Internet, which serves no purpose except to be cited as an offstage plot device which puts the families of John Smith's two 18-year bigamous marriages in contact with each other. And hilarity ensues. Allegedly.

Most of the comedy is given to lodger Stanley, played by Russ Abbot with a limited but efficient range of wacky gestures and expressions; oddly, though, aside from these moments, Abbot's performance on stage is actually smaller than on television. As Stanley's father, Eric Sykes shows that he has lost none of his genius for surgically precise comic business. But it all feels out of time. The audience reacted warmly enough, but barely a week after opening the house seemed less than half full. Unlikely to emulate its predecessor's success.

Written for

Copyright © Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.

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