Corn Exchange, Dorchester

FORGET subtle stagecraft, this is laugh out loud comedy where everyone goes over the top and has a really great time.

Noel Coward’s farcical frolic takes place in 1939 at the home of Garry, a celebrity stage star whose friends and family all unexpectedly arrive and set about creating havoc with his life, arranging to accompany him to Africa, deciding to move in with him and generally driving him to despair.

This production by Dorchester Drama makes the most of the complex theatrical plot and its witty and cleverly devised script which although decidedly dated, still survives surprisingly well, giving everyone the opportunity to enjoy the frenzied fun.

The cast of 11 actors is headed by Martin Stephen who is quite simply superb in the dominant role of Garry, an ageing actor who doesn’t know when to stop performing as he strives to cope with sexy girls, jealous husbands and a bevy of eccentric odd-balls who all seek his attention.

Dee Thorne is in fine form as Garry’s ex-wife who still has a firm hold on him while Jo Salisbury and Cassandra Grindley are well cast as a pair of young women who have ideas of their own about Garry’s future plans.

With Monica Hunt as the scheming secretary and Sean Colledge as the weird would-be young playwright, the cast is completed in their various roles by Fran Sansom, Colin Elphick, Rob Sansom, Steve Twinn and Sue Worth who all enthusiastically embrace the intrigue and lies that surround the self-obsessed but irresistable actor.

A simple but effective set maintains the pre-war atmosphere with director Anne Brown keeping a firm hold on a production that is full of life and laughter as it reminds us of Noel Coward’s own extravagant lifestyle complete with melodrama and sexual innuendo.

This sparkling production continues until Saturday which also has a matinee as well as an evening performance.