Staging a holiday to remember - The Worcester Observer

Staging a holiday to remember

Worcester Editorial 19th Apr, 2024   0

LOVE and trickery among the idle rich at leisure seems to be the predominant flavour of Emily Burns’s opulent feast of comedy in a production which spares nothing in providing a great deal.

Under the perfect manicured sunshine of an island somewhere in the Pacific, two quartets of blissfully entitled pretty young things find every reason not to fall in love and then every reason to do just that. Along the way there’s chest puffing bravado from a host of daft characters, misunderstandings and a hilarious dramatic entertainment on which to heap more laughter.

There’s the faintest background hint of a point being made about the longer-term threat of moneyed interests remaining blind to the climate-inspired crisis these tiny islands face, but it’s not allowed to get in the way. Leave such concerns at the airport – this is holiday time.

All eight lovers are beautifully-drawn. Luke Thompson as Berowne and Melanie-Joyce Bermudez as the Princess, lead from the front, two people whose path to love is only really ever blocked by their self-love and insistence on never leaving their wit in the shade.

As quartets the lovers match perfectly whether that be under the cucumber and facemask on sun loungers or goofing it up as an armour-clad boy band.

Elsewhere there are fine comic turns from Nathan Foad as a preening, self-confidant Costard and Jack Bardoe as Don Armado proving, yet again, that Spanish racial stereotyping will always be funny and never, it seems, questionable.

Wordplay abounds in this play, as does the joyful naivety of some of the rhyming pattern. Both are handled with lightness and in such a way that the poet’s original intention will never be allowed to steal the light from any last ounce of extractable fun.

With all this comic industry on display it’s even more surprising to note that the real eye-catcher is the design on which the action takes place.

A fairly impressive outer wrapper of press conference curtains and giant live news screen allow Joanna Scotcher’s immense set an entrance of its own. A vast round entrance to what looks like the most luxurious hotel spa on the planet, complete with sweeping steps, huge corporate logos and full size tropical trees. Fully revolving while the characters climb and walk its imposing levels, the complex also boasts tennis courts, health spa and a golf course. Overpowering perhaps, but a wonder to behold.

Thoroughly enjoyable too is the island-inspired soundtrack and the integration of original song. At least four of the lovers will have a souvenir CD of the hotel band in their homeward luggage.

There’s a shuddering gear change with the happy ending in sight and, despite the unnerving clatter of a fun-train in full flight screeching to a halt, the sudden turn works and the ending’s unashamedly poignant conclusion doesn’t spoil what is, from check-in to the flight home, a holiday to enjoy.




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