May 2017 – It Runs in the Family RUNS IN THE FAMILY


Reviewed by Peter Steptoe                                        

Tremendous pace, never flagging, Parlour Players gave us a magical evening of nonstop laughter and congratulations are due to Director John Shepherd. There was a strongly constructed set with firmly opening and closing doors, necessary for any self respecting farce. I liked the painted backcloth though it did remind me more of Italy than London, and the wide window served its purpose with goings on internally and externally.

The cast of twelve revelled in this broad comedy set upstairs as a Doctors’ common room in St. Andrews hospital. The plot concerned a returning nurse who had an affair with an older doctor some eighteen years previously which had resulted in a pregnancy kept secret and the child now grown to adulthood wished to know which Doctor was his Father. The ramifications from this simple premise were legion and brought lying and fabrication to a new level.

Dr David Mortimore (Simon Vines) was the putative father, and though pompous was brilliant at lying in order that his reputation was protected as well as his marriage to Rosemary (Sue Swallow)  Dr Mike Connolly (Andrew Mander) was the organiser of the hospital pantomime and the wearer and possessor of many varied costumes available for disguises that brought some reality to the web of lies. In addition he turned out to be the nephew of the Police Sergeant(Phil Wright)  who wished to take into custody the illegitimate son Leslie (Antonio Waite) who tended to go berserk at various times. Dr Hubert Bonney (Michael Cooke) appeared harmless at first but having been entrapped by the machinations of Dr Mortimer surprised us all with various impersonations and disguises. He was a bachelor and the possessor of a charming mother (Joyce Wells) who appeared delighted when she thought misguidedly that she was the grandmother of Leslie and that her son was his Father.

Matron (Ros Tunbridge) became involved unwittingly but had two great scenes, one involving clinging to the window ledge and then falling off and the second when her underpants were mistakenly removed by DR Bonney in the belief that she was Dr Mortimer disguised as matron. He in turn was about to give the memorial lecture, but never managed it despite the encouragement of the hospital head Sir Willoughby Drake, testily played by Jim Gibbons who entered regularly to chastise him throughout the proceedings.

Jane Tate (Felicity Abbott) was the unmarried mother, still slim and lithe even eighteen years later. I was impressed by her ability to cry on demand. Sister (Caroline East) had the small but necessary part of providing the hypodermic syringe to sedate the berserking Leslie which of course found itself embedded in Matron. She also provided a patient called Leslie who was necessary for plot development

Finally we came to the introduction of Bill (Neil Tunbridge) whose surname was Leslie and for reasons too complicated to explain found himself in a wheelchair in the Doctors’ Common Room. His comic timing was good and manoeuvring the wheelchair excellent. I did feel however, that the part was written for an eighty year old that was rather frail, like ‘Young Mr Grace’ in ‘Are You Being Served’.

To finish I liked the running joke when the telephone was answered with “Hallo!” “Hallo!”  Bill sang “Who’s your lady friend”