Lisa and I went to see Donkeys' Years at the Theatre Royal last night. According to the posters outside, The Daily Telegraph described it as "English comedy at its best... it becomes physically impossible to stop laughing". Well I wouldn't say impossible. To be honest, the first time Lisa laughed out loud was when the curtain came down at the interval and I told her my sides had just split.
I don't know what it is about stage comedies. I love the theatre, I love comedy, and yet every time I go to see a supposedly hilarious play, I come away feeling disappointed. I mean, there are plays I find genuinely funny, but I haven't been to see one since last year, and these days the only time I laugh at a bit of theatre is when I'm watching 'Cosmetic Surgery Live'.
Mind you, I wasn't in the best of moods to start with. Having already paid through the nose for our tickets, it then started pouring with rain for the first time in a fortnight, half an hour before we were due to leave, meaning we were forced to pay £3 each for a bus ticket to avoid irreparable damage to Lisa's hair. So once you added in the price of a programme and an interval ice cream, the evening ended up costing us more than a cheap package holiday to Benidorm. Which would have been only slightly less funny.
To be fair, the play wasn't bad. The acting was very good (although I'm disappointed we didn't get to see one of the understudies who, according to the programme, has appeared in a Crimewatch reconstruction), the staging and sets were excellent and the whole thing was very polished. Even Norman Pace excelled himself. Although I wouldn't recommend he try a Brummie accent again any time soon. The whole thing was reasonably amusing, and held my interest for an hour and three quarters, it's just that... well, it didn't make me laugh. Which came as a slight disappointment, having been assured by The Daily Telegraph that I'd require some kind of hospitalisation for hysteria by the end of the night.
I enjoyed 'Noises Off' and the film 'Clockwise', both written by Michael Frayn, but when the main character in Donkeys' Years hurts his back at the end of Act I purely so that he can spend the whole of Act II with his trousers round his ankles, unable to bend over and pull them up, in a lame attempt to get a few cheap laughs, you do start to think that maybe this isn't his best work.