From the time that you enter the venue and are greeted by Mr Erpingham and then by the Padre, then walk into the auditorium to find several of the company dancing, you know that these people are taking this farce seriously. As the action begins, it is clear that this ridiculous take on the Bacchae by the 60s enfant terrible Joe Orton is to be played at full pelt. Sam Adamson inhabits the deluded Mr Erpingham to the last hair of his moustache, Daniel Chrisostomou as the Padre is splendidly unctuous, and Sean Delaney as Riley is ambition tied to clownish incompetence. In fact, all of the cast throw themselves into this play and perform very creditably.
Erpingham Camp is a holiday camp, probably in the 50s, run with military precision by Mr Erpingham. Everyone goes in fear of him – except for the newly arrived entertainment organiser and his pregnant wife. Erpingham and Riley’s treatment of these leads to chaos. (Why do people have such a fear of freedom that that have to go to such camps and have every minute of their holiday organised?)
The confusion and violence of the second half of this play is a tough and demanding act to do justice to, but this company manage that very well and with great energy. There are quite a few of Orton’s trade mark shocking moments, which have probably dated somewhat, but there are still many laughs in this show. He is as hard on religion as usual, though this play is not as dark or as gay as later works such as Entertaining Mr Sloane.
The venue was full – people were seeking out the odd seat before the play commenced, and this popularity is well deserved. This one can be recommended for a rollocking good tea time laugh!