Review: Out of Order @ The Lyceum

With the fallout from the recent general election still settling, the timing of Ray Cooney’s classic farce, Out of Order, couldn’t be more timely in its arrival at the Sheffield Lyceum.

Set in the Westminster Hotel, politician Richard Willey finds himself and his Parliamentary Personal Assistant, George Pigden, getting tangled up in an ever-increasing series of little white lies and absolute whoppers, as they try to conceal Willey’s affair with the secretary for the leader of the opposition. What follows is a classic example of farce: a slew of colourful and eccentric characters, mistaken identity, near misses and swift exits and entrances through doors and windows; all while Willey and Pigden go to desperate lengths to try and keep their reputations intact.

Played out on a static set, the show bears a universally strong cast. Shaun Williamson (Eastenders) impresses as the increasingly frustrated and bewildered Pigden; Jeffrey Harmer orchestrates the mayhem with aplomb as Willey; and Arthur Bostrom (‘Allo, ‘Allo) was clearly in very familiar and comfortable territory as the hotel’s manager.

Whilst the script has been updated to reference Twitter, the current crop of politicians and Brexit, these tweaks are unable to mask how dated the show has become in terms of its style and humour. It had the look and feel of a BBC sitcom from the late 70’s or Early 80’s – think Fawlty Towers or the works of Perry & Croft (Dad’s Army, ‘Allo ‘Allo, Hi-Di-Hi) – which, if like me, you were raised on those, is not a bad thing.

With a number of genuine laugh-out-loud moments and a healthy dose of schadenfreude, this production is well put together with a solid cast, quick-paced comic timing and plenty of quips which amount to a good dose of entertaining and enjoyable silliness.

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