Pros: The characters were all brilliant and I really enjoyed seeing how each one contributed to the developing chaos!
Cons: There were some slip-ups with props and lines, however these were well recovered from and didn’t affect the overall enjoyment of the play.
The Old Red Lion is a great venue for theatre, as it is a cosy and intimate space. With church pew style seating, anything too long may not be extremely comfortable, but there is an excellent view wherever you sit.
The Upstanding Member is a farce about an MP trying to keep a dirty secret from coming to light. Some burglars overhear some sensitive information while hiding in his office, and… well, as with any farce, chaos ensues. I had tears in my eyes from laughing so much; if the stress of Christmas preparations is getting too much, this could be the perfect remedy. From the physical comedy of characters, hiding in the most unconvincing places, to the sheer ridiculousness of the plot, there were no jokes that failed to leave the audience laughing. The audience was quite a mix of ages yet the gags spanned the generations. I was slightly concerned that some of the political jokes may not make me laugh, as my political knowledge is fairly limited, however I needn’t have had any doubt. I was joining in with the rest of the audience and felt that lovely exhaustion from laughing too much when I left the theatre. A play that features such ridiculous situations (eg burglars hiding in a MP’s office, then posing as lawyers when discovered) can’t fail to raise a smile in even the bitterest audience member!
The cast were all brilliant, and were especially skilled at being hilarious while also maintaining their characters sincerity (despite the chaos and unlikely situations taking place.) Carole Street, as Beatrice, plays the MP’s wife with scary accuracy! Another cast member who stood out for me was the bumbling lawyer Mr Graver played by Ed Sheridan. He is working on the case that will make his career, and his increasing despair and frustration as the chaos develops is a joy to watch.
Although there was the occasional slip up or forgotten line, this did not in any way ruin the performance. The prop slip ups even slightly added to the developing mayhem and were dealt with very well by the cast… in some cases I wasn’t even sure if they were intentional or not!
The set is fantastic, with lots of little touches making it feel as if you really are in a MP’s office! On the walls are photos of the MP (or The Man as he is referred to in the programme) with other dignitaries or pictures of him helping others. There is also a bookcase of old books, which we are soon shown are actually secret hiding places for jewellery.
I really enjoyed my evening at the Old Red Lion Theatre. The Upstanding Member is a fantastic farce filled with mistaken identity, physical comedy and really funny jokes! A must see to push aside the winter blues.
Author: Gregory Skulnick
Director: Hamish MacDougall
Booking Link: http://www.oldredliontheatre.co.uk/
Booking Until: 4th January 2014