The Mill at Sonning - Move Over, Mrs Markham
18th April to 2nd June 2018
Review from the Newbury Weekly News.
If farce is your thing…
Move Over Mrs Markham, at The Mill at Sonning, until June 2
Mrs Markham has been moving over regularly since 1971, when the play was first seen in the West End. On that occasion it was directed by Ray Cooney, who wrote it with John Chapman and it comes full circle with this production.
A typical farce of its time, it concerns Mr and Mrs Markham agreeing separately to let their flat to friends for an evening. Philip Markham was played by Mark Curry with a fine grasp of comedy and slapstick. During the course of the action he is caught in what looks to be a compromising situation with his business partner, a complete misunderstanding with his wife and an attempt to explain a publishing contract to someone he wrongly thinks is an author, resulting in a young lady stripping to her undies and leaping on to his bed.
Mrs Markham is in just as much trouble, finding herself thrust into the bedroom with the interior decorator Alastair, played by Delme Thomas. Finty Williams, in the title role, gave a strong performance – utterly convincing as the muddled, bumbling woman trying to talk herself out of each situation with disastrous results.
Thomas linked up with Una Byrne as the maid Sylvie and the pair had a good comic routine going as they indulged in goosing (bottom-pinching) each other. Judy Buxton and Andrew Hall played the Markham family friends and Jeffrey Holland and Rebecca Witherington were the others involved in the complex goings-on.
Markham's company publishes children's books and when he is offered the works of Olive Harriet Smythe (Elizabeth Elvin) he is delighted. She, it appears, is jumping ship from her current publisher because they are putting out too much sex, smut and, as she puts it, "all this nudal frontages". So she offers Markham the hugely-popular Bow Wow and Little Woofer books.
Then everything gets confused as she tells him she is moving from the Isle of Dogs and to Hounds-ditch or Barking.
Markham forgets himself and 'accidentally' gooses Olive and the main actors had to work hard to stop themselves from laughing at that point.
No problem for the audience, who could laugh continuously through this slick, cheeky and very funny production.
There are reviews from the The Stage ("Precision engineered farce, rooted in its time and directed with assurance by a master of the genre [Ray Cooney]" - 4 stars), Wokingham Today ("the show is a joyous night out... you’ll be laughing from the beginning and come out with sore sides as the farce builds to an impressive climax").