If you want to laugh until you cry look no further than a visit to the Theatre Royal Bath, and the production of Terence Rattigan’s comedy While the Sun Shines. So rarely does the phrase ending with “followed by hilarious consequences” actually prove true but in this instance the hilarious consequences don’t follow so much as roll from beginning to end.
Set in the 1940s the plot revolves around the young Earl of Harpenden living in suitably privileged circumstances in London at his Albany Chambers, who meets a drunken American Lieutenant at a club, takes pity on him and allows him to stay the night. Our Earl is expected at an interview at the Admiralty so invites an ex-girlfriend, Mable Crum, who is famous for her efforts in the furthering of Anglo-American relations to keep the Lieutenant company. So far, so good, except his fiancé Lady Elizabeth turns up instead, and yes, hilarious consequences follow with mistaken identity, misunderstandings and general chaos. Combined with an irascible future father-in-law and a lovelorn French officer this is good old fashioned farce at its best.
Michael Cochrane is outstanding as Lady Elizabeth’s father, The Duke of Ayr and Stirling, the role requires him to shout, bluster and bark with the odd harrumph thrown in pretty much without let up, and how he finds the voice power to do this I don’t know. His timing is razor sharp and always hits the mark. Lady Elizabeth is sweetly portrayed by Alexandra Dowling who shows that Elizabeth can be a coquette too, and Rob Heaps is great as the eligible young Earl.
Rupert Young as the American, Lieutenant Mulvaney, who woos Lady Elizabeth with convincing gusto and as he’s taller than everybody else, gives credence to the rumour that the American forces were better nourished than ours. The part of the ditsy but scheming hussy, Mabel Crum, is beautifully carried off by Tamla Kari, and last but not least, Horton, the Earl’s manservant is played with Jeeves’s like proficiency by Jonathan Dryden Taylor.
We enjoyed this so much; it’s a tightly knit production, the superb cast never put a foot wrong and it’s definitely a summer must-see!