THEY say laughter is the best medicine and I received an unexpected dose while watching this hospital based farce from the undisputed king of the genre, Ray Cooney.
I say unexpected because farces usually leave me cold and while some of the jokes are dead on delivery this is a fun, frantic and perfectly paced evening's theatre.
Dr David Mortimore's past catches up with him when an old flame turns up at his hospital with the sort of Christmas present he wasn't expecting in the shape of the son he's never met. Leslie is the archetypal angry young man, desperate to find his real dad. Mortimore, on the other hand, is desperate to keep his true identity a secret and his hapless colleague Dr Robert Bonney ends up covering for him.
Throw a batty old boy into the comedy mix in the shape of Bill (Graham Simmonds) and you have the recipe for laughs. Bill has keen eye for the ladies and a raging libido to boot and Simmonds relishes and shines in the same way Jonathan Black enjoys the incurable schemer Dr David Mortimore. Mike Shaw rises to the many challenges playing Bonney throw up. This is a real test of his verbal and visual comic skills.
Nobody looses their trousers in this play, just their dignity. All in fun of course and you're sure to enjoy the later scenes involving a decidedly "under the weather" Matron, played by an excellent Jill Ratcliffe.
Director Alan Clements certainly gets the best out of cast who give the distinct impression they would happily stay on stage all night. While I wouldn't go as far as to call myself a convert, this entertaining production has made me look at farces in a whole new light. Great escapism - go and wallow in the silliness.
* Until September 30. The box office is on 0161 928 1677. Star rating - ***