Run For Your Wife

Previewed 18 March 1983, Opened 29 March 1983, Closed 10 December 1983 at the Shaftesbury Theatre
Transferred 12 December 1983, Closed 4 March 1989 at the Criterion Theatre
Transferred 6 March 1989, Closed 5 May 1990 at the Trafalgar Studio (Whitehall Theatre)
Transferred 15 May 1990, Closed 15 September 1990 at the Aldwych Theatre
Transferred 17 September 1990, Closed 14 December 1991 at the Duchess Theatre

Ray Cooney's long-playing farce Run For Your Wife in London

The hilarious tale of John Smith, a London black cab driver, who literally has two lives, complete with two different wives! Somehow, he manages to juggle them both without arousing suspicion until he gets caught up in a mugging, and he wakes up in a hospital which is where his unscruplous world starts to unravel and hilarity ensues.

The original cast featured Richard Briers as 'John Smith' and Bernard Cribbins as 'Stanley Gardener' with Carol Hawkins as 'Mary Smith', Helen Gill as 'Barabara Smith', Peter Blake as 'DS Troughton', Bill Pertwee as 'DS Porterhouse', Sam Cox as 'Reporter' and Royce Mills as 'Bobby Franklyn'. Subsequent cast members included Ray Cooney, James Bolam, Colin Baker, Terry Scott, Derek Fowlds, Ralph Bates, David McCallum, Una Stubbs, Ian Ogilvy, Eric Sykes, Brian Murphy, Derek Griffiths, Les Dawson, John Quayle, Lorraine Chase, Alfred Marks, Lionel Jeffries, Windsor Davies, Ron Aldridge, Gareth Hunt, Ian Talbot, Henry McGee, Jeffrey Holland and Paul Shane. Written and directed by Ray Cooney with designs by Douglas Heap and lighting by James Baird.

"This is British farce at its best. Fast, furious, daft and very funny. Don't try to work out the complications of the plot, just admire the superb comedy timing of Richard Briers and Bernard Cribbins. Briers plays taxi driver John Smith. He has two wives who live five miles apart, so he maintains a frantic shift system which enables him to divide his time equally between the two. Smith's bigamous life starts to fall apart when he is mistakenly hailed in the Press as a hero after a mugging incident. Trying to convince the police and his wives that there are really two taxi drivers called John Smith, has him dashing between his two homes concocting a spiral of lies. Bernard Cribbins is the innocent neighbour hauled in to bolster Smith's tall stories. Carol Hawkins and Helen Gill are the wives. If Briers manages to steer clear of stomach trouble he eats a page of a newspaper a night this farce could gallop on for years." The Daily Mirror

"As usual, the plot is as implausible as a drought in Manchester, the men have trouble keeping their trousers on, and the women are just the bits on the side with the bits on the front. But this one takes place in two flats simultaneously and much of the comedy turns upon one husband phoning one of his two wives while they are both (or all) sharing the same sofa. In these liberated days, though, it is the two husbands who have to pretend to be having an affair with each other in order to disentangle one of them from the bigamous mess he is in. Wearing only a kimono, Bernard Cribbins proves himself once again the superlative comic performer, outshining the twice-married Richard Briers, who settles for nit-wit mannerisms." The Daily Express

"For one uneasy moment it looked as if Ray Cooney might have strayed into Alan Ayckbourn's territory by lifting an idea from How the Other Half Loves, that of different house sets on the same stage with action going on in both simultaneously. This fear was dispelled as the comedy, which he has written and directed, revved up into the sort of Whitehall farce the West End has lacked for years. It has the traditional hallmarks, beginning with an unlikely deception Richard Briers as a taxi driver married to two wives and maintaining two homes on a shift system. Cooney throws in a generous amount of long-running crossed purposes, recycled jokes from previous plays and a smattering of double entendres. The only missing ingredient is the dropping of the trousers... Why the errant husband should imagine that his wife will be less upset if she believes the Streatham flat is a lovenest for him and a transvestite, and why the two detective sergeants swallow a whole tottering pack of lies, are not points to be examined closely. Instead. just treasure the moments of pure farce... The rest of the cast give the Briers/Cribbins duo well-drilled support, and Cooney's direction sets an unflagging pace." The Times

Run For Your Wife in London at the Shaftesbury Theatre previewed from 18 March 1983, opened on 29 March 1983 and closed on 10 December 1983, transferred to the Criterion Theatre from 12 December 1983 to 4 March 1989, transferred to the Whitehall Theatre from 6 March 1989 to 5 May 1990, transferred to the Aldwych Theatre from 15 May 1990 to 15 September 1990, transferred to the Duchess Theatre from 17 September 1990 to 14 December 1991