Bang Bang is a Made in Colchester production – their first of 2017 in fact, and is currently playing at the Mercury Theatre.
This is a new adaptation of Georges Feydeau’s Monsieur Chasse! – which has been adapted by acting icon John Cleese and directed by veteran of theatre, television and radio, Nicky Henson. This is a play that’s rarely performed, and this is my first experience of “farce” theatre, and it’s definitely one to remember!
The story primarily focuses on the respectable lady of high society, Leontine (Caroline Langrishe), who is in a stir as to whether she might be getting hoodwinked by her husband, Duchotel (Oliver Cotton)- because when he says “I’m going hunting” she begins to question if his prey are actually four-legged animals!
In Duchotel’s absence of “bang bang!” time, his lifelong friend, Dr Moricet (Richard Earl), comes calling – and he’s on the “hunt” too. Will Leontine get caught in his sights, or set a trap of her own?
Saucy secrets unravel as they find themselves caught in a door-slamming, trouser-dropping, lover-hiding, balcony-climbing night of chaos set in the stylish apartments of Paris.
Without knowing much about this style of play, I had very few preconceived ideas, though I did question if it was my style as I had in my head that ‘farce’ would translate as slightly cringe-worthy. However, I was pleased to discover this was not the case at all and I found myself quickly immersed in this tale of utter nonsense. Though, while it may be silly on it’s exterior, I do wonder if elements could be applied to the reality of what it’s like when unravelling the truth to lying and affairs.
There was just two sets, both of which were beautiful – ornate and traditionally French; and the transition between the set change was quite something! The costumes were nothing short of eye-catching too, and there was also some great music which set the scene of reminding us we were in France.
As for the cast, they were just brilliant. In these type of plays, there’s an element of audience interaction as they almost come away from character to speak out to the audience – and this is what catches the loudest laughs. There was one moment were one cast member in particular struggled to keep it together when the audience held a particularly long round of laughs – but it seemed to only heighten the fun. It’s hard to depict one stand-out performance because each cast member brought a unique quality to the show, but for me personally it was probably Caroline Langrishe as Leontine because I just thought her mannerisms and quirks really brought the character to life and you loved her constant indecisiveness.
Overall, it was a wonderfully fun piece, with expertly executed comic timing. The show was seemingly enjoyed by all, and for fans of John Cleese you could certainly see his stamp on it. It was a great introduction to this genre, and for my first visit to the lovely theatre – and this is just the start of their season! Worth catching if you can for sure…