See How They Run

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Previewed 20 June 2006, Opened 25 June 2006, Closed 28 October 2006 at the Duchess Theatre in London

A major revival of Philip King's comedy See How They Run in London directed by Douglas Hodge.

See How They Run is set in rural England during the Second World War. It is here, in the idyllic village of Merton-cum-Middlewick, where the village inhabitants are preparing themselves for the imminent threat of Nazi invasion. Miss Skillon, the resident nosy-parker and spinster, becomes convinced that her beloved vicar's actress wife is having an affair and attempts to expose her. Add an escaped German prisoner of war, a handsome actor, the visiting Bishop of Lax, a rotund locum priest and some meddling neighbours and See How They Run has all the ingredients for a classic British comedy.

The cast for See How They Run in London features Tim Piggot-Smith as 'the Bishop of Lax' and Nancy Carroll as 'Penelope Troop' along with Nicholas Blane as 'Reverend Humphrey', Adrian Fear, Natalie Grady, Julie Legrand, Chris MacDonnell, Nicholas Rowe and Jo Stone-Fewings. The production is directed by Douglas Hodge and comes into London's West End following a regional tour.

"Philip King was an actor, as is director Douglas Hodge, and what we therefore get here are several starry solo performances in search of a coherent style. The script is a farce aching to be a light comedy, so in spite of an inadvertently alcoholic neighbour suspended from a hook in the coat cupboard, and nearly half a dozen men lined up on a sofa in dog collars all pretending to be the same vicar, we never quite reach the manic crescendo taken for granted by Georges Feydeau, that classic French writer of the farce... Played in deadly earnest, this is a very funny play: Once you mug it or overdo it in any way, you lose the essential spirit of a script complete with comic German invaders and dim sergeants that got us, in a roundabout way, to Dad's Army. But there's difficulty in getting us over the borderline from comedy to farce, though Hodge does achieve some brilliant comic effects, not least characters leaping over an empty space on the carpet where once there was a drunken spinster. You also have to remember that audiences when the play was first seen were unusually desperate for a laugh, and I suspect they worked harder to join in the fun than we do today." The Daily Express

"War informs the subtext, if not the subject matter, of lots of theatrical fare... it gets a more light-hearted treatment in this classic Philip King farce, first performed in 1944. Here, England is a green and pleasant land populated by buttoned-up vicars and frustrated spinsters, Nazis are barking, goose-stepping figures of fun and the simple presence of a man in the house with a married woman whose husband is away is considered scandalous. The piece is creakily oldfashioned, yet its dramatic mechanism is still in working order, and Douglas Hodge's production for the Touring Partnership keeps it well oiled. The occasional awkward moment of staging aside, the action is choreographed with skill, and a likeable cast bring sparkle and energy to King's decidedly uncomplicated characters." The Times

"Douglas Hodge's hilarious, pacy revival of Philip King's 1943 farce is two hours of breathless, frantically funny, old-fashioned escapism. Like a perfectly calibrated antique watch, it works as well today as it ever did... Penelope Toop, a former actress attempting to play the role of wife to the rather wet Reverend Lionel Toop. She inadvertently outrages the decent inhabitants of Merton-cum-Middlewick by wearing red nail varnish and decorating the pulpit with turnips. Particularly incensed is uptight spinster Miss Skillon (Julie Legrand), bitterly disappointed not to have become the vicar's wife herself. Miss Skillon is a spectacular, rubberlegged drunk who is forever being stuffed into a coat cupboard with various men and, at a high point in this divine comedy of errors, is even hung up on a door hook. A brilliantly drilled cast includes Jo Stone-Fewings as the game Lance Corporal, Nicholas Blane as 'hapless Humphrey', a rotund visiting vicar, and Natalie Grady as the giddy housekeeper who can't resist a man in uniform." The Mail on Sunday

Philip King's See How They Run was first staged in London at the Comedy Theatre (now Harold Pinter Theatre) in January 1945 where it provided the perfect escapist entertainment during Britain's darkest hour, and run for nearly 600 performances. With four vicars and a bishop famously making an appearance on stage at the same time, this is the original 'English Vicar' play. It went on to provide the inspiration for that much-loved TV comedy, Dad's Army.

See How They Run in London at the Duchess Theatre previewed from 20 June 2006, opened on 25 June 2006 and closed on 28 October 2006.