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KEY FOR TWO by John Chapman and Dave Freeman
Venue: Theatre Royal Windsor 1981
Directed by Dennis Ramsden

Harriet Moira Lister
Gordon Patrick Cargill
Anne Barbara Murray
Alec Glyn Houston
With David Stoll, Sonia Graham, Eileen Anson

Reviewed on transfer to the West End

It is a sad thought that were it not for people like John Chapman and Dave Freeman, who are prepared to sit down and work out the logistics of farces like Key for Two, it is extremely unlikely that we should have the pleasure of seeing actors like Moira Lister and Patrick Cargill on the West End stage. Moira Lister rather indiscreetly reveals in the programme that she began her career in this country in 1943. Patrick Cargill goes even further, stating he was a Sandhurst cadet as far back as 1936. If by this honesty they are inviting us to envy their eternal youth, they succeeded in their aim, for they gallop about the Vaudeville stage like a couple of 18-year-olds, aided by five other players of mature years. By which one might gather that Key for Two is directed towards the over-40s, who will certainly be at home with the plot, a decidedly old-fashioned affair given a slightly permissive sheen.

Harriet (Moira Lister), a sporty divorcee, has solved the problem of how to live in a smart, expensive Brighton flat by taking two lovers, both married. She has even solved the problem of how to keep them apart by inventing a tiresome, puritanical and unseen mother, the very mention of whose name is sufficient to send Gordon (Patrick Cargill) and Alec (Glyn Houston) scampering back home. The complications start when Gordon sprains his leg when he slips on a halibut brought by Alec, a trawler owner, and cannot be moved. The fortuitous arrival of Harriet's best friend Anne (Barbara Murray) enables Harriet to embark on an ever-wilder series of explanations to her lovers, who now happen to be in the same place at the same time, though they do become far-fetched by the elastic standards of farce when Anne’s husband – played in the grand tradition of the stage drunk by David Stoll – and the wives turn up as well. Director Dennis Ramsden manages to keep the proceedings just this side of desperation and a good time is likely to be had by all who (a) are not too demanding, and (b) in the right age group.