REVIEW: Run For Your Wife, Westovian Theatre, South Shields

Run For Your Wife at the Westovian Theatre. Back, from left, Laura Pigford as Detective Sergeant Porterhouse and Frank Ditchburn as Detective Sergeant Troughton. Front, from left, James Barton as John Smith, Rachael Walsh as Barbara Smith and Gary Mason as Stanley Gardner.
Run For Your Wife at the Westovian Theatre. Back, from left, Laura Pigford as Detective Sergeant Porterhouse and Frank Ditchburn as Detective Sergeant Troughton. Front, from left, James Barton as John Smith, Rachael Walsh as Barbara Smith and Gary Mason as Stanley Gardner.

It’s easy to see why this terrific piece of writing ran in London’s West End for such a long time in the early 1980s.

Ray Cooney’s script is near perfect in its construction and still very, very funny despite containing stereotypical references to the gay community that today would be frowned upon.

This, however, is a period piece from the time and is as inoffensive as those classic, un-PC television sitcoms of the time, namely Are You Being Served , ’Allo ’Allo and Fawlty Towers.

If you like a good laugh this has it in bucketloads, and what a fantastic concept; a taxi driver, John Smith (James Barton) who is a bigamist, gets involved in a scuffle, becomes a hero and is photographed by reporter (Simon Spark) which leads to him being on the front page of the London Evening Standard.

The grit in the oyster is that there are two detectives (Laura Pigford and Frank Ditchburn) on his trail and he has to not only avoid their questioning but ensure the two Mrs Smiths (Danielle Miller and Rachael Walsh) don’t meet.

Of course they do, and we get rip-roaring situations that provoke gales of laughter, especially as Smith’s sidekick Stanley Gardner (Gary Manson) is forced to assume numerous characters, including his gay lover.

Throw into this combustible situation an outrageously camp neighbour (David Gibson) and the lies grow and grow.

Cooney’s writing piles on the twist and turns until after the two-hour hoot-a-thon you are exhausted. Heaven knows how the cast cope!

They do though, thanks to David Cook’s direction that allows the action to continuously flow. He’s picked a good cast who do justice to Cooney’s classic farce, which is still funnier than anything on television today.

• Run For Your Wife at showing at the Westovian Theatre until Saturday, July 18.