The Playhouse Theatre brings Kenneth Horne’s romantic comedy to Northampton.
If you try searching the internet for Love In A Mist, you will find yourself coming up with a bit of blank. It turns out, this play isn’t much performed, or particularly well known, and the script is out of print. All of which could lead you think that the play, which was performed in the West End in 1965, might be a little dated and not something current audiences would enjoy.
And there you would be wrong.
Set sometime in the early part of the 20th century, Love In A Mist takes place in the parlour of one Mrs Evans (Gena McCrystal) in her cottage/bed and breakfast on Exmoor. Tumbling in to take refuge from the fog are Nigel (Kevin Evans) and Pat Phipps (Georgina Pearson), a newly wed couple who’s journey to their honeymoon has been interupted by the inclement weather. They are just about to settle down for the night, much to nervous Nigel’s delight, when a second couple arrive – Rose (Holly Parker-Guest) and Howard (Siôn Grace) – and with only one bedroom between them, they quickly descend into arguments over who will be sleeping with whom.
McCrystal is, as always, an absolute pleasure to watch. Every inch the matriarchal busybody who would run a quiet B&B, she steals pretty much every scene with her amazing monologues and glances to the audience. Simon Rye too, despite having no lines, makes a wonderful appearance as Mr Evans – with simply a newspaper and some perfect comic timing, he turns a silent character into the source of many, many laughs.
With their clipped accents and traditional uptight British repression, the couples are both convincing in their ongoing frustrations and reconciliations. Kevin Evans flips neatly between fury and apologetic guilt, while Pearson deals with a whole host of quickly changing emotions beautifully. Grace and Parker-Guest too bring a real sweetness and obliviousness to their young couple.
The script might be a tad old fashioned – there are rather a lot of “Dear Lord”s – but it hasn’t become dated. A few of the lines might have slightly different meaning in a modern context, but it doesn’t feel out of place, and at times, makes it even funnier.
Mark Mortimer and Weekes Baptiste’s set is one of the best I’ve seen on The Playhouse stage (not apparent from the production shots which were sadly undertaken before the set was finished) – rich and full of interesting little knick-knacks, but also dilapidated enough to get a real sense of the Evans’ being stuck in a different time. Lighting too was used to great affect – from the glow of the fire to the light coming through the window on the fourth wall, the little technical touches made all the difference to the atmosphere.
This is Weekes Baptiste’s first time directing for The Playhouse, and it’s clear that he’s got the knack for finding the funniest beats in the script, while also not being afraid to play with the space – having the cast shouting (and even in one instance, singing) off stage was a great comic touch.
Love In A Mist might be over 50 years old but in the hands of this very capable and talented team from The Playhouse, it’s still a delightfully funny night out at the theatre.
Love In A Mist runs until 22 September 2018 at The Playhouse Theatre, Clare Street, NN1 3JA. Tickets cost £9 and £8 for concessions and may be booked by telephoning the box office on 01604 627791 (answerphone) or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Becki is a theatre lover originally from Birmingham. She founded On Stage Northants in 2017, and is passionate about promoting Northampton performing arts. She also works for Royal & Derngate as Marketing and Press Assistant. Can usually be found behind the scenes, and occasionally in front of them too. Becki also blogs at StageyRebel