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Charley's Aunt The Commandery, Worcester ????? ..... This is an open-air production by Worcester Repertory Company had an infectious sparkle about it, something which kept a sizeable audience in tucks of laughter for the whole evening.

In the fine Commandery grounds, rain did not stop play and this time-honoured farce was delivered beautifully under Chris Jaegar's experienced direction on a simple scaffolded set.

In 1892, when Charley's Aunt first saw the light of day, Oxford had its serious side. Tennyson and Mathew Arnold were names on people's lips and, along with Walter Pater and Jowett, were revered accordingly. Unfortunately there was also a plethora of air-head, teenage hooray henrys, silly billies, if you like, parked in Oxford by the upper class to absorb common sense and whatever Pater and Mater might have thought of as an education.

As Oscar Wilde did so beautifully in The Importance of Being Earnest, Thomas also mocked this privileged foolishness with his farcical caricatures of naive Oxford undergraduates and their pursuit of similarly affected young hooray-harriets, a pursuit which never failed to keep an eye on the pot of gold which glittered invitingly on the bridal altar.

And with this excellent production, played throughout the evening with the speed of an express train - a style farce requires - Worcester Repertory Company earned its laurels.

Today the world seethes with a desire to trample class barriers, and perhaps it is this egalitarian zeal which invests Ben Humphrey's splendid Jack Chesney with its sharp, sardonic edge.

Eternally cross with at Pater for lack of funds, Jack is hell bent on getting it on with Kitty while his mate, the hyper-active Charley Wykeham (Jamie Kwasnick) is entangled with the imminent arrival of his millionairess aunt from Brazil (Liz Grand at her most imperious) a lady impersonated by Lord "Fanny" Babberley (the irrepressible John-Robert Partridge).

With the finely-played Kitty (Victoria Lucie) and the equally clever Amy (Alison Hellings) to send along the evening with a swing, aided and abetted by Nick Wilkes as the serious ex-pat senior Chesney, and Edward Manning as the long-suffering butler Brassett, this feel-good evening restored an underproduced farce to its former glory.

Until Sunday.

Richard Edmonds

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jul 20, 2017
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