Theatre | Disorder in the house | Ken Longworth

SHENANIGANS: Dan Shaunessy, as Mr Willey, MP, and Ashlyn Horder, who plays Jane Worthington, in Maitland Repertory Theatre's Out of Order.

SHENANIGANS: Dan Shaunessy, as Mr Willey, MP, and Ashlyn Horder, who plays Jane Worthington, in Maitland Repertory Theatre's Out of Order.

RAY Cooney’s comedy Out of Order has a government minister using a late night parliamentary sitting to go to bed in a hotel with an attractive opposition female parliamentary secretary, with everything going wrong as people keep coming to their room.

Given that politicians have often been found to have had such meetings, it is not surprising that the play has been a hit with audiences since it premiered in London in 1991.

Indeed, Cooney, who is now 85, directed a British touring production last year that sold out.

Maitland Repertory Theatre is staging Out of Order at its venue for a three-week season from February 7, with a cast that includes actors who have enjoyed playing the demanding roles in other Cooney farcical comedies.

Dan Shaunessy, for example, who is the womanising MP, Richard Willey, was a taxi-driver who moved between two wives, both unaware of each other’s existence, in Cooney’s Run for Your Wife.

Cooney drew some of the parliamentary characters in Out of Order from 1950s politicians who were revealed to be using a hotel adjoining the London parliament house to have affairs on sitting days.

As happened in those situations, Willey and the woman he meets do all manner of things to hide their activities.  

Dan Shaunessy notes that Willey is a likable rogue who gets better and better at lying as the story progresses. He’s told his wife that he’s staying at the hotel because of the all-night sitting, and she unexpectedly turns up at the hotel to see him.

And the woman’s husband, who suspects she is having an affair, hires a private detective to follow her, with the sleuth getting his head caught in the bedroom window when he is spying from outside, and seeming to be dead. But is he?

Ashlyn Horder plays is the woman Willey takes to the hotel, Alex Simpson is the parliamentary aide Willey summons to help him get out of the worsening mess, Amanda Woolford is Willey’s wife, Matt Scoles is the woman’s insanely jealous husband, Declan Johnson is the private detective, Emma Campbell is a nurse who looks after Pigden’s mother and is attracted to him, and Colin Delaney, Sharon Allen and the show’s director, Robert Comber, play hotel staff members who get caught up in the bedroom activities.

Out of Order opens at Maitland Repertory Theatre, opposite the Town Hall, with an 8pm show on Wednesday, February 7, performances on Friday and Saturday at 8pm, until February 24, and 2pm Sunday matinees on February 18 and 25.

Tickets: $22; concession $17.

Season tickets, covering four 2018 shows, are $55.

Bookings: maitlandticketing.com.au; 4931 2800.