“Out of Order”
By Ray Cooney, directed by Walter Learning, for Canberra Repertory, at Theatre 3, until December 3.
Reviewed by Helen Musa
ENGLISH playwright Ray Cooney is an expert at winding up ridiculous plots; Canadian director Walter Learning is an expert at unravelling them.
“Out of Order” is easily the silliest bit of pre-Christmas fun in Canberra. The plot is familiar. An English MP in the Thatcher era finds himself compromised in a London hotel room. A mysterious body at the window completes the picture.
The handsome hotel setting designed by Russell Brown takes us back to the Thatcher era, though most of the music is the Beatles.
Three top veterans of Canberra’s theatre scene – Geoffrey Borny, Micki Beckett and Jasan Savage – create eccentric vignettes that provoke unrestrained laughter from the moment they pop their heads in the door.
Paul Jackson does justice to the enviable role of The Body, while Tracy Thomas, who plays the sexy secretary from Opposition Leader Neil Kinnock’s office, finds it hard to bring her role to life.
But this evening belongs to Peter Holland, as the deviously libidinous MP Richard, and Robert De Fries as his confidential secretary George, in the performance of his life. Holland brings energy to his character’s constantly inventive lies, but De Fries, reveals that beneath his stuffy and self-righteous exterior is an even more consummate liar. Their double act is a theatrical treat not to be missed.