Party guests are arriving and the hosts are absent; there’s been a gunshot and everyone can only guess what is going on – and guess they do.
That’s the premise of Neil Simon’s Rumours, the latest production by the Great Hall Theatre Company. It’s an ensemble piece where comic tension builds as couple by couple the guests arrive, each adding to the confusion and, for the audience, amusement as they bluff each other with increasingly outlandish cover stories.
Robert Barr and Kate Cox open as the original guests, quickly followed by a deliciously tart Jessica Cridlin and the lively and loquacious Ian Miller. Stewart Thompson plays a straight-ish bat and Ros Mace laces her role with shrill eccentricity. A nicely grumpy Ben Allen and tightly-wound Rachel Sizer complete the guest list.
The first half builds pleasingly but could have done with some extra pace from director Carita Drew. The second act has a more relaxed but equally absurd air, with proceedings wrapped up by cartoon cops Barry Parsons and Lorna Pearce.
There are some delicious moments: Sizers’s eruptions and some unexpected dance moves stand out. The audience definitely has a better evening than the guests.