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LET SLEEPING WIVES LIE by Harold Brook and Kay Bannerman
Venue: Garrick 1967
Directed by Wallace Douglas

Carmel Cryan
Leo Franklyn
Mr Gudgeon
Andrew Sachs
Willie Kitson
Dennis Ramsden
Muriel Kitson
Anna Dawson
Henry B Wymark
Derek Farr
Bill Teacher
Elspet Gray
Brian Rix
Leslie Crowther


The third and final farce to come into the Brian Rix repertory at the Garrick – the others are “Stand By Your Bedouin!” and "Uproar in the House” – is  “Let Sleeping Wives Lie” by Harold Brooke and Kay Bannerman. It is, I think, much better than “Bedouin!” and almost as good as the very funny “Uproar”. A tangle about substitute marital partners when a man and a woman are trying to impress their American boss during a “job test” weekend at a Brighton hotel, is in the fast and furious tradition of farce, with plenty of invention, not startling but usually effective, and a rapidly changing series of impossible situations that come across with a crazy plausibility in the midst of the turmoil.

There is middle-aged, conventional Willie Kitson, who fantastically, becomes involved with Mavis, the Irish maid at the hotel, in his encounters with the boss; and there is Liz, who takes up with an old friend, Jack, who passes off as her husband with the same boss. But of course the genuine wife and the genuine husband are in the set-up too. One of the chief attractions of the evening is the way that the six, plus the boss, walk, run, rush, dash and scamper from room to room, from passage to passage, in couples, in trios, altogether, meeting when they shouldn’t, wrong ones meeting, right ones all right for a time, only to be all wrong again. So it goes on, with interludes between the genuine couples as one or the other tries desperately to sort out just what is going on. There are, too, a chain-smoking, constantly-coughing janitor, a staid, pansified hotel manager, and Dudley, the aged porter, all small parts that fill in corners and make their own entertaining little diversion in a most acceptable way.

One does not expect dialogue out of this world, but of the Brian Rix farce world, and one gets just that: never brilliant yet almost always to the point, unsubtle to a degree yet usually funny; above all, put over, like the development of the story, firmly, vigorously, enthusiastically and expertly timed. As there is no straining for real characterisation, except in the case of the American, Henry B. Wymark, who is verify well played by Derek Farr, the impact of the couples comes from their actions and reactions, verbally and otherwise, and these are handled under Wallace Douglas’s direction in a swift near-crazy farcical flow by Dennis Ramsden, Anna Dawson, Carmel Cryan, Elspet Gray, Leslie Crowther and Brian Rix. In unflagging support are the gloriously amusing Leo Franklyn, Andrew Sachs, providing some snap highlights as the hotel manager, and Bill Treacher.