Sauce for the Goose, Orange Tree Theatre, Richmond, December 2012

Just the ticket for the Christmas season, this Feydeau farce is huge fun. The driving force is marital infidelity, real and imagined, and what’s sauce for the goose is …

1.Sauce for the Goose_Orange Tree Theatre_1

M et Mme Pontagnac

Bedroom doors opening, closing, locking and unlocking, … all done in the round — how is it possible? The answer is doorless doors, working very cleverly with noises off, and compared with a farce of that name this is far more enjoyable. There is no tripping over things, no overt clowning, and though the first two acts last nearly two hours they flew by in wonderfully entertaining fashion.

Not what he bargained for

Not what he bargained for

It all starts with bright cheerful music and the world seems so simple, until Lucienne enters pursued by the impossible Monsieur de Pontagnac. Thinking he can have her as she takes revenge on her husband Vatelin, he ends up being the fool of the piece, and rather than getting sauce for the gander, finds his goose to be well and truly cooked. The translation by Peter Meyer has plenty of nice lines and the play on the words dog and hound by Heidi, who spoke bits of perfectly good German in her confused anxiety, was very amusing. Blood-dog for blood-hound, lap-hound for lap-dog, and being dogged into bed came over with spontaneous wit.

She's exhausted him

She’s exhausted him

Act III starts with a cheerful march, perhaps reminding us of the military man Pinchard and his wife who take the bedroom booked by Vatelin, creating utter confusion at the end of Act II. The music, translation, and timing brought this delightful farce to life, with fine acting from the whole cast, including notable performances by Stuart Fox as an engagingly simple husband Vatelin, Beth Cordingly as a prim, proper, determinedly vengeful wife Lucienne, and Damien Matthews as the lover she would gladly embrace if she could manage it.

Someone's in the wrong bed

Someone’s in the wrong bed

I don’t like the dropped trousers and silly moments of some farces, but love Fawlty Towers, which is farce par excellence. The important thing is that the characters play it seriously, as they do in this excellent production by Sam Walters. After all, adultery is a serious business, and Feydeau’s knack for immediately bringing together people who should never meet one another makes for laughter that keeps us riveted from beginning to end.

Performances continue until February 2 — for details click here.

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