Charley's Aunt: Theatre Royal Bath
Theatre Royal Bath
An astonishingly wide and varied number of actors have, over the decades, taken on the role of
Brandon Thomas' infamous Charley's aunt.
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Some, like Danny La Rue, have obviously relished putting on a new frock while others have played it straight down the line as young men forced by their friends to do a spot of cross dressing.
The latest in this long line of 'aunts' which includes Noel Coward, Rex Harrison, John Gielgud, John Mills, Mel Smith and Griff Rhys Jones is Mathew Horne from the TV sitcom Gavin & Stacey.
You get some idea of how he is going to play it when you see his trouser bottoms cheekily peeking out from under his dress for everyone to see - or not to see.
This new production of a very old Brazil nut is actually knockout stuff and shows us exactly why the play refuses to gather dust whenever it's put back on the shelf.
Bath is fantastically fortunate to be the only place outside London to get a glimpse of Ian Talbot's take on the story of three lovesick college men in late Victorian England. Surprising then that the house wasn't packed out on opening night.
Just for starters there is an eye-popping set complete with Gothic stonework which eventually turns into a sumptuous, over the top drawing room that would put most Oscar Wilde sets in the shade for the final act. Fortunately it didn't get a round of applause but you could almost feel the temptation.
Then there is the cast, all experts in the field of top quality farce with men chasing boys dressed as women, conversations at crossed purposes and more impossibly improbable coincidences than you might
expect to be packed into a single evening.
My guess is that it will be a long time before we want to see anyone but Mathew taking on the role.
But he has fantastic support from Jane Asher, Dominic Tighe and Charles Kay and many more.
Get a ticket or you'll kick yourself when you read the rave reviews from London.