Play for a glorious summer evening

Paul Gabriel and Andrew Ryan
Paul Gabriel and Andrew Ryan

Fur Coat & No Knickers, Theatre Royal Nottingham, on until Saturday, July 2

PREPARING for a wedding can be fraught at the best of times but when families from different sides of the tracks are brought together the potential for disaster is obvious.

In Mike Harding’s hilarious comedy Fur Coat and No Knickers (Theatre Royal, Nottingham) they gather for the 1970s wedding of Deirdre Ollernshawe (Rebecca Tanwen) and Mark Greenhalgh (Ben Dehalphet), son of a wealthy businessman.

Most of the faces on stage are familiar as cast associated with the late Colin McIntyre’s classic August thrillers join Andrew Ryan and Paul Gabriel, veterans from city Christmas offerings, with Adrian Lloyd-James directing what is in effect a tribute to his old mentor.

The result is a play which is ideal for a glorious summer evening, with surface harmony masking the back-stabbing and family feuding which occurs out of earshot. The early action takes place in the Ollernshawe household in which mum (Samantha Sanns) strives to keep her sons Jack-the-Lad Kevin (Christopher Sheridan) and Peter (Dominic Vulliamy), anarchic left-wing local free sheet journalist, poet and would-be novelist, in check.

Peter gets his kicks from taunting his father Harry (Rob Laughlin), whose wartime service in North Africa with Montgomery’s Eighth Army leaves him with an understandable mixture of admiration for Monty and Rommel but curiously unsuccessful attempts to introduce some of Hitler’s disciplinary methods into home and workplace (‘Hitler wouldn’t have stood for it’).

Most of the madness and mayhem develop from a drunken stag night in which Father Finbar Molloy (Peter Gabriel), an alcoholic Catholic priest, becomes increasingly incoherent as the evening wears on and Nip, maternal grandfather of the bride, drinks everybody under the table and adds some devastating one-liners.

The wedding breakfast is predictably chaotic as the groom’s pretentious parents (Andrew Ryan and Karen Henson) face up to some painful revelations about their past and the whole thing descends into chaos.

A classic comedy romp which entertains everybody.