Reviewed by Tristan Harris
PROBABLY the most important element of good comedy, especially farce, is good strong characters and The Birthday Present by Carla Buckley, staged at Droitwich’s Norbury Theatre, had them in abundance.
The play centres around Edward who, as he celebrates his 48th birthday, is ruing still living with his mum and being single. Help is at hand from his well-meaning, but misguided, best friend Rupert who takes it upon himself to set the beleaguered bachelor up with a date after signing up to a lonely hearts website. But, Rupert’s embellishing of the truth on Edward’s profile sees him forced into some sticky situations which almost lead to catastrophic consequences.
A superb script was brought to life with some amazing acting and there was plenty of comical chemistry on display during this Big Frog Productions piece.
Among the perfect performances were Andy Brown as Edward who the audience empathised with more and more as the plot progressed and, through no fault of his own, his situation spiraled out of control.
Bob Wilkes was also fantastic as the hilarious Henry and Sheila Proudfoot excelled in her role as Edward’s mum Barbara, reminiscent of Phyllis – the domineering mother in hit Ronnie Corbett sitcom Sorry.
The actors’ versatility was also impressive on the night as some of them had to ad-lib here and there when the sound effects didn’t quite go to plan – a factor that added to the hilarity among the watching audience.
The fast-paced roller-coaster storyline of The Birthday Present made this easily the funniest and most feelgood new piece of theatre I have seen in a long time.
Read more: Norbury unwraps a funny, frivolous and feelgood Birthday Present | Bromsgrove Standard