Caught in the Net

February 2007

Caught in the Net - by Ray Cooney
Performed - Wed 31st Jan to Sat 3rd Feb 2007

This play is a sequel to Run For Your Wife. It is set 17 years later and John Smith is still happily married to his two unsuspecting wives. He now has a sixteen-year old son, Gavin, by Barbara in Streatham, and a fifteen-year old daughter, Vicki, by Mary in Wimbledon. One day Gavin and Vicki happen to meet surfing the internet and are amazed at the coincidences concerning their respective fathers: both are called 'John Smith'; both are aged 43; and, surprise, surprise, both are taxi drivers. Vicki can't understand her Dad's vehement reaction when she tells him, firstly, of the amazing coincidence and, secondly, that she's invited Gavin round to meet him and Mum, John spends the next two hours attempting to stop the inevitable.

Have you ever thought what it would be like to live two lives? Have two homes, two wives, two children and a barrel load of trouble? Care to try?

John Smith has, for the last eighteen years, lived between two homes, kept two wives happy and had two teenage children. But his very neat life is about to receive a very large bolt or more to the point his teenage children have discovered with the help of the internet there is more than one Smith on the planet and guess what? They want to meet!

So John takes the only road open to him and begins to involve life long friend and long suffering lodger Stanley in his little set up. Along with Stanley's dotty father he conjures up a heap of lies to prevent the kids from ever meeting, but things might not go as planned. From the beginning 'Caught in the Net' hooks you in!

We have Mary and Barbara happy, sort of, with their lot the two kids, Gavin and Vicki, dying to meet and doomed never to! John racing around in his taxi keeping everyone apart and then there's Stanley who is about to go on holiday with his Dad but somehow it never comes off.

Well, the production is what I can only describe as sheer brilliance unfolding before my very eyes. So much so that I was treated to an evening which contained the most superior acting, directing, and timing I have seen for a very long time in comedy farce; A popular genre from the 50s and 60s.

The farce died a death maybe because unless a stage production had just the right knack to pull it off they just didn't work. So I was interested to see how Boston Playgoers would perform. And they didn't disappoint. This first night production flew off the stage. The set allowing the audience to see both the Wimbledon and the Streatham home with the actors simultaneously going about their business was well directed, full of laughs and only offensive if you wanted it to be!

Wife Mary was either making sandwiches, being locked up or mesmerised by Stanley?s sexual prowess. Whilst Barbara floated with a selection of dressing gowns and slippers to stun any waiting man or not!

Vicki and Gavin's ability to perform comedy showed a flair which I am sure would please any agent on the look out for young talent. John and the Dad Gardner were wonderful I loved them both, their timing was perfection. The vision of Stanley holding hands with Gavin will remain fixed in my mind for a very long time along with Barbara's dressing gowns which were definitely not sexy!

And in the end? Well it twists and turns, ducks and dives, and you know what I'm not telling except to say you won't twig the outcome until the very end. And for me Stan was my man and I'm sure the West End is waiting!!

Hit the right recipe, and comedy farce can successfully be born again. When a company gels from the backstage crew to the actors you are on a winner. With the playgoers the passion is there for all to see. Boston Playgoers may just have found that very niche!

June Atkins, BBC Radio Lincs 07/02/2007

Playgoers' tangled web of family farce
THE perils of internet dating are there for all to see. How can you guarantee you won't find yourself out on a romantic meal with a complete bore, walking down the seafront with somebody with personal hygiene problems or at the cinema with an axe murderer? Perhaps you could even be invited round for tea by your own sister.

The latter was the conundrum facing bigamist John Smith in Ray Cooney's farce Caught in the Net.

Boston Playgoers' adaptation at Blackfriars saw Smith (Peter Kay) frantically dart between his homes in Streatham and Wimbledon in a heart-pounding attempt to keep his teenage children Gavin (James Smallman) and Vicki (Hattie Clarke) from meeting up and blowing his cover after 18 years of doubly happily married life.

This was the brotherly and sisterly love he did not want and Kay did good as the man trapped between bedfellows Mary (Judy Mugleston ? good angry, great psychotic) and Barbara (Glynn Ruskin ? bemused and downtrodden to a tee).

However, and much to my early surprise, the star of the show was Stanley Gardner, John's best friend and lodger.

After a slow start, coming across more as yet another simpleton sidekick, he grew into his own throughout the first act and became the glue that held the play together.

This job went to Phil Landshoft who, in his stage garb, looked like a chunky Harry Enfield dressed as a Florida retiree.

Landshoft delivered his harassed lines with aplomb and was also gifted the biggest laughs for his confusing private life ? believed by one wife to be having an illicit affair with another son.

The script saw the action take place simultaneously in both marital homes and, as always with farce, there were nearly as many doors as characters. 

But this never proved a problem for the viewer as director Judith Hall managed her actors with necessary diligence.

I must admit to be someone who finds farce frustrating. With every twist and turn comes another step away from rational behaviour and a leap closer to ludicrousness. But well-delivered one-liners and a fine comedy turn from John Lingard as Dad kept the interest rate up.

However, if a show is only as good as its audience's reaction, then this was a love match.

Duncan Browne - Boston Standard 13/02/2007

Actors names on right:

Gavin Smith - James Smallman 
Vicki Smith - Hattie Clark 
Barbara Smith - Glyn Ruskin 
Mary Smith - Judy Mugleston 
John Smith - Peter Kay 
Stanley Gardner - Phillip Landshoft 
Dad Gardner - John Lingard

Production Team

Director - Judith Hall
Producer - 
Stage Manager - Bob
Set Design - Paul Gibson
Set Construction - Paul Gibson and members of playgoers
Stage Crew - Claire White
Costume - Glyn Ruskin, Liz Worsley
Furniture & Properties - Paul Gibson, Liz Worsley
Lighting - Paul Gibson
Sound - Paul Gibson
Poster - Paul Gibson
Programme - Patrick Hall
Prompt - Lucy Taylor