Review: Charley’s Aunt
A cracking comedy to drive away the week seven blues
Audiences of Charley’s Aunt this week were in for a real treat – with a host of some of the funniest character portrayals, the production was a success with its comedic punchiness. Under the direction of Maya Calcraft, the show’s simple plot (that follows the union of various couples, facilitated by the introduction of Charley’s elusive Aunt, who is really Charley’s friend dressed up as such) is elevated by the precision of movement, comedic timing and delivery of lines.
A large part of this success can be attributed to the vivid set, which took place in three different locations across the three separate acts. Moving from the cluttered undergraduate room to scenic gardens (with fake grass on stage!) to a domestic room of high dining, you really felt like you were immersed in the world of high academia that is the setting for such frivolity in love, thanks to set designer Hugh Bowers.
I feel like we’ve probably all met someone who we feel is a real stereotype of posh Cambridge academics, and the cast excelled in portraying these typifications of people. Lizzy Lotery and Seb Gentile are wonderful in their representations of Jack and Charley, in that they successfully capture the well-natured and bumbling innocence of undergrads in love, as it seems like nothing seems to go right for them. As lead characters they are truly delightful in leading us through the japes of the show, with hilarious moments of dry comedy accompanied by a healthy dose of panto-esque slapstick.
And speaking of this, the absolute masters of this style of acting are Rob Monteiro and Francesca Lees in their respective portrayals of Lord Babberley (“Babbs” and also the fake Charley’s aunt) and Jack’s father Sir Chesney. The former’s skill in acting in drag whilst also managing to convey his original character as Babbs in this performance is fantastic – incredibly funny and truly convincing of his acting ability to go back and forth between such extremities of character.
I will also never be able to fully comprehend how Lees managed to capture old rich academic man so incredibly well, accurate in both accent and manner of speaking as well as his body movements – his entitled chortle still makes me smile in memory.
The cast of the desired-after ladies were also wonderful in portraying coy and demure reactions to all of the boys’ japes, with Melania Hamilton, Imogen Carter, Gabriella Shennan and especially Lillian Jones, whose portrayal of the Aunt is nothing short of magnificent in all her refined glory.
Kit Bashaarat’s Spettigue is equally successful in its hyperbolic comedy, with his frantic scuttles across the stage never failing to bring a smile to my face. And finally special mention goes to Martin Carter as Brassett, whose restrained incredulity and yet ever-constant loyalty is truly always a wonderful moment of relief from such the silly circumstances the boys find themselves in.
Overall the play is quaintly funny with a clearly high production value and a really good range of acting shown from all the characters, showing a real love for the show. Though at some points humour had a tendency to fall a bit flat, the moments where it shone in humour were really successful in keeping the audience engaged with the play, creating a really wonderful production overall. Definitely a worthwhile way to spend your Week 7 evenings, everyone who came to see Charley’s Aunt left with a smile on their face!
Charley’s Aunt is showing on the 7th – 11th of March at 7:45 pm at the ADC Theatre. Book your tickets here.
Feature image credits: Jessie Wade