REVIEW: GHOST ABOUT THE HOUSE (Kings Head Theatre) ★★★
Slapstick gets sexy in this time-jumping comedy at the King’s Head Theatre.
Writer Matthew Campling has moved from writing witty lines in plays about serious issues like sexual assault and Brexit, to writing a flat-out comedy that occasionally mentions serious issues. This bawdy comedy doubles down on the patio doors of a Whitehall farce by adding in two separate, but overlapping, timelines.
In 1936 young Ian (Joshua Glenister) is struggling to seduce servant Leonard (Joe Wiltshere Smtih) whilst being reluctant to be seduced by older man and family friend Eddie (Matt Gibs). In the same household 20-something Henry (Timothy Bore) is trying to seduce Ian’s wealthy mother, Lady Millicent (Sioned Jones) but thinks Eddie is the competition. Meanwhile in the run up to the 2016 EU referendum Ian’s ghost is still silently stalking the same house whilst current owners Alex and Edward are separating and older politician Edward has picked up 18-year old Lenny on a Remain campaign trip to Swansea. As the two timelines evolve the parallels between them grow and whilst the ending is fairly predictable, it still fits well enough.
Director Scott Le Crass knows how to milk the physical comedy and keeps the pace up to maintain the energy. The result is there is virtually no subtlety and plenty of flesh on display (although it is never explained why ghost Ian has to spend all his time wearing only y-fronts). The production struggles with the small space it occupies, using a bed in the audience to create additional performance space.
In the air-conditioning-free King’s Head Theatre, all the charging about takes its toll on the actors but they all manage to keep up despite the obvious fluid loss. Sioned Jones gives Lady Millicent the full Lady Bracknell treatment and seems to be having huge fun, whilst the contrast with bitter Nita is delivered well. Joe Wiltshere Smith probably has the best comic timing of the cast and is genuinely loveable as naïve Lenny. Joshua Glenister does well as spoilt brat Ian and handles the silent ghost well; Timothy Bore is fine as Alex but a little stiff as Henry; and finally, Matt Gibbs is convincing as love rat Edward but not sinister enough as the devious and predatory Eddie.
Overall this is fun production, so if you fancy a few good laughs aimed at grown-ups this certainly fits the bill.
Reviewed by Kris Witherington
Photo: Bonnie Britain