Comedy can be uncomfortable

Chimps at the New Wolsey until May 16.

THIS is the other main in house productions for the season after Chorus of Disapproval, and as such seemed to be an odd choice. Both the title and the pre show blurb told little about the content and I must admit to having never heard of the author so assumed it was a new play.

In fact this play dates back to 1997 and Simon Block has in fact had quite a successful career since then writing for TV and radio as well as the stage.

So, what is it about? I must admit the set - a kitchen and a living room was very Ayckbourn and my heart sunk even more when the young couple, Stevie and Mark, entered with lots of shopping bags and began a very banal conversation about how much jelly had been bought.

He is a freelance illustrator who has yet to land his first commission so he has (irresponsibly) left his job at the post office to concentrate on an alphabet book for children. But after months of work has only managed the first two letters. She is working full time and expecting their first child.

So far so kitchen sink. But then into their lives comes two shifty salesman and the whole ante of the play is upped.

We have all been there I imagine - the double glazing salesman that you invited in and is still there two days later, the persistent telesalesman who you can't get off the phone.

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Well Gabriel and Lawrence are the worst of all of them combined and as they sink their claws further and further into Mark and Stevie's lives - so the cracks in their relationship begin to show.

Although this is a comedy, as the second half progressed the disintegrating relationship got more and more uncomfortable to watch.

Director Peter Rowe has got the build up of tension just right - after a bit of a slow start the pace picks up and we are pulled, pushed and hurtled along to the final climax. I would recommend this as a contemporary play well worth seeing.


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