An elderly doctor called Dr Fossil has just married Susannah Townley (Jane Gurnettt), a young woman who he believes is a virgin. However, within the first couple of hours of getting married he becomes suspicious about her past as mysterious letters begin to arrive for her from young men. What follows is a cat and mouse game with the Doctor trying to trap his new wife and his wife trying to outwit him. In the meantime his wife's young lovers compete against each other for her effections.
The farce is a little slow on laughs at the beginning but it soon gathers momentum and then we are treated to some fine comic sketches.
The characters are exploited brilliantly, every one being exaggerated to bring out the best in them. Clive Francis who plays Dr Fossil is wonderful, so too are Susannah's lovers, 'Plotwell' played by the very talented Richard McCabe, and 'Underplot' played by Adam Godley. The best part of the play is when both these are dressed up, one as a 'Mummy' in a tomb and the other as a crocodile, simply wonderful theatre. McCabe was also good when he dressed up as a Russian doctor, I loved his facial expressions and his accent.
There are other great characters, 'Phoebe Clinket' (Alison Fiske) who is Dr Fossil's niece has written an awful play and gets Plotwell to pretend it's his, this way the producers and critics may accept it. 'Sir Tremendous', the critic played by David Foxxe, a fat man dressed up campish and tries to eat all the cake, is marvellous. The list goes on, there's so many rich characters here.
Don't go to see this expecting some great comics lines and jokes, there are not many. The delights are from the way the characters are portrayed.
Congratulations to Tim Goodchild, his sets are probably the best I've seen here at the Barbican Pit. There is a wall full of oddities and curiosities that Dr Fossil collects. and the actors would enter the stage through doors in this wall. The whole set looked wonderful and felt just right, giving the stage the perfect atmosphere.
A pleasant evening indeed!