REVIEW: Cream Tea and Incest (The Hope Theatre) ★★★★★
This, all-too-short, farcical romp through the British-aristocrat-period-genre is a masterpiece of comedy, closely following in the limelight of the great farces in its jolly little outing in Islington. The cheekily titled, ‘Cream Tea and Incest’, is a little difficult to describe, so here is what it is not; ‘Jeeves and Wooster’ – the gentleman and manservant never shared a bed in the P.G. Wodehouse classic. Neither is it – ‘The Play That Goes Wrong’ – although the set is clearly homemade and the fourth wall is often broken – and finally, it isn’t ‘Poirot’ – despite the natty dressing of characters and corpses piling up by the bakers’ dozen. No, it isn’t any of these things, it is quite simply on its own terms, although influence abounds.
Eddie Spangler, (Benjamin Alborough) a bankrupt Englishman from good stock, and his manservant, Jeffrey (Eoin McAndrew), head to the country, to visit an old friend – Lord Wiggins (Aidan Cheng) – and rather helpfully, recent beneficiary of his fathers’ colossal estate. Although, Wiggins has his own troubles – aside from flip-flopping between Marxism and Libertarian Capitalism – his brother, Lord Biggins (Edward Spence) is trying to kill his younger brother, unhappy with his smaller share of the estate. Chaos ensues; murders and manslaughters pervade the entirely although bafflingly charming plot.
Ending on a happy note, for all those who survived at least, there is a rousing song and everything a comedy-loving-chap could want from this tweedy rollercoaster which speeds with such pace as to leave the audience in tears of laughter for the full sixty minutes of this one act of brilliance.
Exceptionally talented writing from Benjamin Alborough gave opportunities for the entire cast to dazzle – an opportunity not wasted by any, although special mention for the effervescent performance of the remarkably talented Aidan Cheng in his role of Wiggins and perhaps most memorably ‘Yorkshire Policeman’.
If you don’t get to see anything else on the London fringe this month – see this, you won’t regret it!
Reviewed by Lee Knight
Photo: Olivia Rose Deane