On Monday 15th of April, I went with my drama group to see a farce entitled ‘Out of Order’ at Chorley Little Theatre. This piece of work is a critical analysis on that play. I was rather apprehensive about going to see this play, as it was a farce, a medium of theatre I am not accustomed to enjoy. However, I think the play was acted rather well, and I quite enjoyed it.
Out of Order is a farce, by Ray Cooney, set in a large London hotel. Plot was centred on the activities of a Labour minister, Richard Willey, a secretary from the Conservative party called Jane Worthington, Willey’s PPS George Pigden and a dead body!
Mr. Willey and Mrs Worthington are having a long-term affair, in the London hotel in which the play is set. However, both are married so they cannot have the scandal spread, and as they work for different political parties. However, when they find a dead body on the windowsill, they are faced with a dilemma: do they tell the police, and face the music, or do they try to hide the body?
They decide to hide the body and get Mr. Pigden round to the hotel to help them hide the body. They also have to get Mrs. Worthington out of the hotel as soon as possible. Most of the following scenes are a race to hide the body, and get rid of Mrs. Worthington without the manager of the hotel, or the room-service waiter seeing.
The plan really starts to go bad when Mrs. Worthington’s husband, Ronnie, turns up at the hotel and reveals the dead body to be a private detective sent by him to spy on his wife and Mr. Willey. However, Willey fobs Ronnie off with the story that, he is not sleeping with the wife, George Pigden is. Things really take a turn for the worse when the supposedly ‘dead’ body wakes up with amnesia, and has to be removed from the hotel.
Then Mr. Willey’s wife, Pamela and Mr. Pigden’s mother’s nurse turn up at the hotel. Pigden has to distract both of them to the suite across the hall by promising to make love to them.
Finally, all is set right. Everyone is back with his or her respective partners, Mr. Pigden proposes to Gladys and the room service waiter has a lot of money!
I thought the play was very well performed and set. In my opinion the best character was the room service waiter. He had a lot of concentration and focus, and played his part with a good use of both space and dialogue. He projected a good atmosphere, and, even though his accent changed repeatedly throughout the play, a good use of clarity and tone.
The staging and structure of the play was done satisfactorily. The lighting, which was simple, but effective, consisted of white overhead lights for the main part of the stage, and a blue light for the part of the stage that represented the outside. Costumes were kept at a minimum (in some cases, too much of a minimum!) and were just normal, everyday dresses, suits and undergarments, except for one nurse’s uniform that was used for Gladys. The sound effects were very simple. Unfortunately, some of the time you could hear both the cues for the lighting and sound, and the prompt too clearly from the audience.
The acting was done rather well. However, the lines should have been delivered quicker, and there was not much use of filled pauses. The accents were another problem. The accent of the waiter appeared to change throughout the play. The mannerisms of Mr. Willey were also slightly out-of-sync with the character intended for the part.
In my opinion the worst part of the play was the ending. I found that it was weak and confusing. Some of the time the actors could not be heard, and I felt it did not do the rest of the play justice in terms of focus, concentration, atmosphere and ending.
By contrast, I think the start of the play was particularly good. I found it comprehensive, and felt it set the scene for the rest of the play. I felt that it explained itself well and portrayed itself realistically (for a farce!). I also thought that it made a good job of introducing the characters and creating the mood that was to last throughout most of the play. However, at the end of the play there was some nudity that was both unnecessary and could have offended some of the audience.
This play could have been improved with more focus and a speedier delivery of the lines. The irrelevant nudity could have been edited out and replaced by something slightly more tasteful. More care could have been taken of the placing of accents and the diction and clarity of the performers.
In conclusion, I think that actors with a degree of competency performed this play to a good standard. I think that the staging effects used were, though simple, were on the whole effective and worked well, and I enjoyed watching it.