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Volume XVII, Issue 9 - February 26 - March 4, 2009
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No Sex Please, We’re British

reviewed by Jane Elkin

No Sex Please, We’re British is a dated comedy of errors entangling innocents in an illicit postal pornography ring. A G-rated burlesque of sexual innuendo and slapstick humor, Alistair Foot and Anthony Mariott’s 1971 play delighted British audiences for a decade. That would be the same decade that brought us The Benny Hill Show.

Not quite the stuff of Masterpiece Theatre, it was roundly panned by British critics and flopped on Broadway after just 16 performances.

photo courtesy of 2nd Star Productions

Al Chopey as Superintendant Paul, Steve N. Bradford as Brian Runnicles and Lesley Miller as Frances Hunter, with James Poole, seated, as Peter Hunter.

It’s not everyone’s cup of tea. But if you get it, you can’t get enough.

The story unfolds in a groovy pad — decorated in heinous ‘70s’ fashion by Jane B. Wingard — above the bank where our hero works. Newlyweds Peter and Frances Hunter (played by Ron Howard lookalike James Poole and true Brit Lesley Miller) are settling into their love nest.

A visit from Peter’s priggish coworker Brian Runnicles (Steven Bradford) cuts short their blissful solitude. Runnicles, as the hapless victim who signs for the first package of unsolicited pornography, he is drawn into a web of lies spun by the Hunters to protect Peter’s reputation and job.

A parade of uninvited guests follows: the prying mother-in-law Eleanor Hunter (Susan S. Porter); Peter’s boss Leslie Bromhead (Jerry Khatcheressian); Police Superintendent Paul (Al Chopey); the bank examiner Mr. Needham (the seriously funny Wendell Holland); the ubiquitous deliveryman (Mark McKaye); and a couple of tarts, Susan (Rosalie Daelemans, a knockout in garterbelt) and her apprentice Barbara (Ginger Andrews.)

You can bet your bippy that public propriety is compromised by bawdy bedroom pranks. Yet nudity and profanity are conspicuously absent. For as Frances Hunter muses while perusing dirty books, I know they call it a permissive society, but they never say who gave permission. Who wants to see such things?

Judging from audience reaction, not many.

Yet a boisterous minority on opening night was hysterical with laughter, twittering with anticipation whenever someone was slipped a mickey and guffawing with glee to see bustier-clad hookers riding piggy-back on bankers.

Director Charles W. Maloney revels in the suggestiveness of this script. But he dropped the ball in allowing wildly inconsistent accents, which rob the story of its already tenuous credibility.

2nd Star has produced 48 plays since its founding in 1996. Yet amid this economic slump, the often-praised company’s continuation is uncertain. To stay alive, they need to satisfy their target audience. So the success of this bedroom farce plays into their future.

Playing thru March 14 at 8pm FSa; 3pm Su @ White Marsh Park, Bowie. $20: 410-757-5700;


© COPYRIGHT 2009 by New Bay Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved.