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Greater London
posted/updated: 08 Jun 2019 -
Flat Out
by Jennifer Selway. Produced by Ovation Theatre.
society/company: Upstairs at the Gatehouse (directory)
performance date: 05 Jun 2019
venue: Upstairs at the Gatehouse, 1 North Road, Highgate, London N6 4BD
reviewer/s: Rebecca Swann (Sardines review)

Photos: Darren Bell


A new comedy/farce which had the audience gaffawing from the off. Fast-paced, witty and tremendous fun. British farce at its best with all the classic elements but updated for a modern audience. The writing is easily as good as The Play that Goes Wrong by Mischief Theatre, who are adding two new farces this year, showing that the genre is alive and kicking with plenty of audiences up for the jokes.

John Plews (director) has gathered together an excellent cast with great chemistry and perfect timing to deliver his high-spirited and energetic production. There are so many comings and goings - escapes out the bay window on to the scaffolding, hiding in the bedroom and broom cupboard and exits in and out the front door I was exhausted just keeping up.

Claire (Cathy Walker) and Hugh Carmichael (Stuart Simons) have been renting their prime location, Kensington flat for decades, but have long since moved out to their ‘enormous, posh place’, so the flat is currently empty awaiting its new tenant. The action takes place over two hours when Claire has lent the flat to her friend Angela Crabbe (Jennifer Matter) for an afternoon of supposed adultery with Giles Fletcher (Richard Earl). Add to the mix; Marina the over-zealous cleaner who may just be an illegal immigrant (Hollie Taylor), Sandrine the new tenant who isn’t quite who she pretends to be and has ulterior motives for renting the flat, Tim Forrester (Jake Mitchell) the officious representative of Oistins management company and Phil Gibson (Tom Pepper) the dodgy neighbour from the flat downstairs whose wife appears to have gone missing, and we have a hilarious farce on our hands with all you would expect; mistaken identities, entrances and exits to make you dizzy, cross dressing, a potential murder (or two!) and lots of doors.

Jennifer Selway’s writing is clever, funny and up to date; there are mobile phones but of course people forget them, no-one blinks an eye at the cross dressing or the potential lesbian relationship but the confusion that reins creates hysterical situations that allows the audience to laugh and forget about being PC.

Stuart Simons is outstanding and steals the show in parts as the fabulous cross-dressing banker Hugh, with his effeminate preening and pouting. He is a tall man and with his red dress, blonde wig and the five-inch, Christian Louboutin red soled shoes he towers above everyone and is simply hilarious. The audience loved it and he played along to us superbly.

If I am to find anything to criticise it would be to add a bit more dynamic to the first fifteen minutes introduction of the characters and there were a few slip ups on lines but given it was just the fifth performance that was forgivable.

I can see Flat Out taking hold in amateur theatres across the country with its simple stage set of one room with multiple entrances and a small cast of eight actors that can be almost any age. Or even a tour – it’s that good.
Well worth a night out Flat Out is on until 30th June. The Farce is back in town!

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