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Mortimer Dramatic Society - Keeping Down With the Joneses

20th to 21st October and 27th to 28th October 2017

Review from Newbury Theatre.

John Chapman and Jeremy Lloyd’s comedy is set in 1985 during the Cold War. MP Geoffrey Jones has constructed a bunker beneath his back garden and is planning a 3-week trial of it with his wife Deirdre, their baby, his mother-in-law Mrs Wayneflete and the au pair Grindle. At the back of John Bull’s impressive set is a huge lever with a big red knob on the end, and we just know that someone’s going to pull it. When the inevitable happens, the bunker is locked down with the family plus the milkman and a telephone installer, and they can’t open it. In Act 2, their neighbours appear from an adjacent bunker and it all gets a bit crowded.

Darren Reed was impressively good as Geoffrey – totally believable as an incompetent MP with an eye for the ladies. Karen Dignan was his wife and sparring partner Deirdre, showing a softer side to the hunky telephone man Joe – a strong performance from Sam Foad, who was perfect for the part. Paula Stenson as Mrs W sailed through, oblivious of what was happening (and looking good for her age). Kim Antell was good as Grindle, with an accent reminiscent of Henning Wehn. James Burton Stewart was the likeable milkman, with a good Irish accent that sometimes got in the way of the words.

In Act 2 we meet the Blakes from next door: Roger Holmes as the sleazy magazine publisher and Kerry Thomas, very good as the accommodating nudie model. Nick Pounder had a very nice cameo role as the PC.

The play itself was a bit slow at times; Act 2 was much better than Act 1, with lots of very funny lines. Director Tom Shorrock made full use of the ingenious 3-location set. My only criticism is that the cast needed to pick up more on their cues, to keep the pace going.

A rather silly play with some very funny lines and some accomplished performances from the Mortimer cast.