Out of Order
Maitland Repertory Theatre, at its theatre
Ends February 25
THIS staging of playwright Ray Cooney’s Out of Order confirms him to be one of the world’s best creators of farcical comedy, with the opening night audience laughing loudly from beginning to end.
The title is a tongue-in-cheek reference to the behaviour of the main character, a British government minister, Richard Willey (Dan Shaunessy), who uses an all-night parliamentary sitting for a liaison with the attractive secretary, Jane Worthington (Ashlyn Horder), of an opposition front-bencher. Everything goes wrong from the start, when Willey finds an apparently dead man outside the room, with his neck under what is clearly a faulty window. Things get increasingly chaotic as Willy tries to work out a way of disposing of the body, initially hanging the man by his shirt from a hat hook in a cupboard.
The other characters include George Pigden (Alex Simpson), Willey’s parliamentary secretary who is called to help dispose of the body, a room waiter (Robert Comber, also the play’s director) who increasingly holds out his hand for more money, the irate hotel manager (Colin Delaney), the husband (Matt Scoles) of the female secretary, Willey’s wife (Amanda Woolford), a nurse (Emma Campbell) attracted to Pigden, and a maid (Sharon Allen), Declan Johnson is eye-popping as the initially lifeless body.
Writer Cooney gives amusingly different meanings to expressions such as “deadbeat”, and “you’ve hit it right on the head”.