Classic Aldwych farce Thark is 'blissful' period tomfoolery
Revival of Ben Travers 1927 farce at the Park Theatre is as sublimely irrelevant as ever
What you need to know
A revival of Ben Travers' farce Thark has opened at the Park Theatre, London. The play was one of a series of farces presented at the Aldwych theatre in the 1920-30s and known as the Aldwych Farces. The Park Theatre presents a new adaptation by writer/actor Clive Francis and directed by Eleanor Rhode.
Set in 1927, Thark tells the story of Hector Benbow, whose secret liaison with a shop girl is scuppered by his wife’s early arrival home. The situation is complicated when Benbow learns his home, which is up for sale, is haunted. Hector, his nephew Ronny, and the rest of the family set out to prove the rumours wrong. Runs until 22 September.
What the critics like
"Ben Travers' joyous farce creates an alternative universe in which panic lurks just below an innocent surface," says Michael Billington in The Guardian. Rhodes revival is nimble and witty and Travers' farce remains as gloriously and sublimely irrelevant as it ever was.
"The dottiness of the cross-talk and the attractive idiocy of the situations give the play its period charm," says Paul Taylor in The Independent. There is some classic, blissful tomfoolery, in this entertaining, if lightweight show.
This is an "engagingly dotty vintage farce", says Charles Spencer in the Daily Telegraph. The chumps, dragon aunts, good-hearted shop girls and delightfully silly cross-talk provide moments of unalloyed comic joy.
What they don’t like
"I don't like farce," says Fiona Mountford in the Evening Standard. This creaky old genre harks back to a thankfully bygone age of tediously divided sexual politics, and the Park Theatre, swanky new building though it is, needs to think about its programming choices. ·