See How They Run (2011)
See How They Run by Philip King is a classic British farce set in wartime Merton-cum-Middlewick. It involves a cluster of clerics, mistaken identities and a German PoW. Chaotic, uproarious and daring this is one of the finest farces ever written.
Show, venue, reviews, cast and production details
See How They Run by Philip King is a classic British farce set in wartime Merton-cum-Middlewick . It involves a cluster of clerics, mistaken identities and a German PoW. Chaotic, uproarious and daring this is one of the finest farces ever written.
The Theatre, Chipping Norton
Theatre Royal Windsor
Haymarket Theatre, Basingstoke
South Hill Park, Bracknell
The Palace, Mansfield
The Devonshire Park, Eastbourne
Opera House, Buxton
“Like in ‘Twelfth Night’ it was the cast’s interpretation of the script that made ‘See How They Run’ probably the funniest thing I’ve seen all year. The humour was fast-paced and they definitely kept up. But it wasn’t just King’s script that the actors brought to life. With people making their entrances and exits from many different directions, the whole stage was utilised and the cast’s movements, whether subtle or completely over the top, were essential to the play’s success.”
“Rachel Donovan stole the show as the ubiquitous Ida, the maid. Lucy Speed (of Eastenders) and Arthur Bostrom (Allo Allo) also star. It’s all performed at a cracking pace. Sheer escapism and two hours of laughter. Who could ask for more?”
“This was a production that exuded fun in what was a fast and furious production performed by a talented cast that left the audience enthralled and still laughing as they left the theatre.”
“Although we are not immersed in a world war as when this play was first staged, we are racing a worldwide economic crises, so get a bit of light relief by catching up with production if you can.”
“It was a hoot from start to finish and let’s hope that The Original Theatre Company, who also staged Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night the following evening with the same cast, can be encouraged to return.”
“See How They Run is performed with panache, often at breakneck speed, and with some of the neatest timing I’ve seen, and this company keep the audience involved and laughing from start to finish with plenty of surprises along the way”
“Bostrom, with his cut-glass English accent, was perfect as the Bishop of Lax visiting his niece, Kelly (Siobhan O’Kelly) and her vicar husband, the Rev Lionel Toop (Alastair Whatley) – although his arrival also coincided with that of Kelly’s former actor friend who swapped Army uniform to sport a dog collar, as did another bemused minister calling at the vicarage and a German PoW who was on the run with a gun.
If that was not enough former ‘EastEnders’ and ‘Bill’ star Lucy Speed as Miss Skillion, one of the Vicar’s upright parishioners who was uptight at being excluded from decorating the pulpit at the harvest festival, took to drink, aided and abetted by the maid, Ida (Rachel Donovan), who had some of the best comedy action spots in an enjoyable evening of mistaken identity amid a surfeit of vicars all getting their knickers in a twist.
It was not a sin to have watched this clerical chaos, but it was to have missed out on a great night at the theatre.”
“This is famously classic English farce: counting the French windows, there are five doors opening and closing, a working-class maid, a village spinster busybody type, dropping trousers and misunderstandings all round. Each of the characters is operating at complete cross-purposes to every other character.
Performances are all excellent. Every single actor achieves the pace and attack so vital to successful farce.”
“Every note – from Rachel Donovan’s straight-faced slapstick maid, Sebastian Abineri’s booming sergeant and Leo Atkin’s hapless vicar – chimes together and shows audiences where some moments of Fawlty Towers or Dad’s Army were done funniest, first – an achievement all the more remarkable considering the joyous and triumphant script was written when things seemed at their worst.”
“The Original Theatre Company has again chosen Eastbourne to premiere its latest production before embarking on a national tour.
Local theatregoers and visitors should also, on this occasion, feel quadruply blessed as the classic farce includes four vicars!
Written by Philip King in the darkest days of World War II, the action takes place in the panelled entrance hall of the vicarage in Merton-Cum-Middlewick.
The preposterous plot, with every nuance deftly teased out by director Chris Harper, features clueless clerics, a baffled bishop, an escaped German POW, a bicycling spinster and a cheeky Cockney maid.
Bona fide village vicar, Reverend Lionel Toop (Alastair Whatley), and his wife Penelope (Siobhan O’Kelly), a former actress, are initially clinking teacups with parish do-gooder Miss Skillon (Lucy Speed) until she hits the cooking sherry, and which she continues to do with increasing regularity before each time collapsing into a rubber-legged, bloomer-clad heap.
Flirty housemaid Ida (Rachel Donovan), whose comic sequence wielding two hot-water-bottles is a gem, then finds the vicar’s wife in a no-holds-barred clinch on the floor with her former thespian chum Clive Winton (David Partridge), now a Lance-Corporal in the Army stationed locally.
Arthur Bostrom, as the Bishop of Lax and Penelope’s uncle, epitomises purple pomposity until he lands in the garden pond in his pyjamas. Visiting vicar, Reverend Arthur Humphrey (Leo Atkin), understandably bemused, feels he has arrived in a madhouse and Sergeant Towers (Sebastian Abineri), in charge of searching for the escaped Nazi (Rhys King), loses his parade ground authority when ordered, in a memorable line “Arrest most of these vicars!”, by the bishop.
Without appearing dated, perhaps surprisingly, this performance by a cast whose timing and exuberance never flags ticks every box in the mistaken identity cupboard.
It remains as quintessentially British as steak-and-kidney pudding, wet Bank Holidays and the village fête.”
“The plot is straightforward, even predictable, but the wonderful performance of this company is so accomplished and convincing that we might never have seen it all before.
It actually seems churlish to pick out members of this talented cast because they are all so wonderful in character – however, Lucy Speed’s performance as a drunk Miss Skillon is phenomenal and Rachel Donovan’s Ida has to be seen to be believed and is worth going for alone.”
“I never liked farce, I never found it funny – until tonight. The Original Theatre Company’s production of “See How They Run” is superb. The acting is not over the top as it is in so many farces which is why it is very funny.
Chris Harper’s direction and timing is spot on and the casting is first class. Lucy Speed gives a great performance as Miss Skillon who so disapproves of the vicar’s actress wife, and the way she changes from the straight-laced spinster to an out-of-control drunk provides the best humour of the evening.
Alastair Whatley as her long-suffering husband is a perfect foil and Siobhan O’kelly acting the actress adds to the enjoyment of the play. When she and her old friend Clive Winton (David Partridge) re-enact their roles in “Private Lives” it is a joy to watch. Rachel Donovan as Ida the maid is the lynchpin of the entire play and she executes her role with great expertise.
Arthur Bostrom is Penelope Toop’s confused uncle, the Bishop of Lax, a part he plays very well and Leo Atkin is the real Reverend Arthur Humphrey – or is he? This is a play about mistaken identity, confusion and mayhem in the Vicarage. Trying to sort it all out and searching for the escaped German prisoner is Sebastian Abineri playing larger than life Sergeant Towers.
This play is an ideal choice for the Summer Season. Devonshire Park Theatre was packed and all you could hear was laughter.
One character who does not even get a mention in the programme is Hazel the dog who steals the show with a miniscule appearance in Act Three but she takes her curtain call like everybody else, tail wagging and she is obviously enjoying her moment of fame.
Completing the cast is Rhys King as the intruder. This is classic farce at its very best, chases round the stage, three or four Reverend Toops, two Reverend Humphreys but like all traditional farce you will know who everybody is at the end.”
“Despite the wartime vicarage setting, the humour in this piece is timeless with moments of pure slapstick genius that are extremely well received by the audience. Farce, as a genre, is much maligned in the rather highbrow world of theatre but, for a side-splittingly good night out with laughter guaranteed, catch this production. But do be quick – they run very fast.”
After a slow start the cast gather speed and deliver a muddle of laughs in this clever and truly funny play. All the action takes place in Victoria Spearing’s 1944 wartime vicarage, complete with anti-blast, taped French windows through which the cast of nine, plus a dog, perform incessant comings and goings – often on the run.
Rachel Donovan as Ida the maid ties all the action together with her many well-timed appearances and misunderstandings. Her silent messages and gestures are hilarious.
Lucy Speed is terrific as Miss Skillon, the local spinster and gossip who loses all her primness via the cooking sherry and turns into a drunken athlete who never did follow the plot.
The bumbling Reverend Toop played by Alastair Whatley with Siobhan O’Kelly as his wife, work well together in creating madness.
David Partridge, in a big role, is splendid as the soldier, ex-actor and old friend who loses his uniform. Arthur Bostrom is impressive and enjoys being the Bishop of Lax whether well-dressed or covered in mud.
Rhys King as the escaped German with a gun, Leo Atkin as another reverend and Sebastian Abineri as Seargant Towers each contribute greatly to the pandemonium.
Philip King’s ageless farce is a compendium of chaos containing a group of people all suffering from high anxiety. One soon wonders how they could make so much noise in preposterous situations. The famous piece is tightly directed by Chris Harper and therefore it suddenly makes sense.
Penelope Toop: Siobhan O’Kelly
Clive Wilton: David Partridge
Lionel Toop: Alastair Whatley
Ida: Rachel Donovan
Intruder: Rhys King
Miss Skillon: Lucy Speed
The Bishop of Lax: Arthur Bostrom
Sgt. Travers: Sebastian Abineri
Rev. Humphrey: Leo Atkin
Directed by: Chris Harper
Produced by: Alastair Whatley
Set Design by: Victoria Spearing
Graphic Design by: Sam Charrington
Costume Design by: Pam Wiggins
Lighting Design by: Alan Valentine
Sound Design by: Dominic Bilkey
Hair and Make-Up by: Jo Stringer
Assistant Director: Craig Gilbert
Company Manager: Pete Donno
Deputy Stage Manager: Gareth Moss