Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Shut Your Eyes and Think of England"

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entire contents copyright 2011 by Tony Annicone

"Shut Your Eyes and Think of England"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

The latest show at Granite Theatre is the British comedy, "Shut Your Eyes and Think of England" by John Chapman and Anthony Marriot. When Mr. Pullen comes to the office on Saturday to finish the books for an audit, he's astonished to find his employer, Sir Justin Holbrook, in the penthouse flat with a call-girl. Unexpectedly Lady Holbrook arrives and Holbrook passes her off as the second Mrs. Pullen. A rich Arab sheik is expected and England's entire fate depends on Holbrook signing an agreement with him, but Holbrook suddenly collapses and Pullen has to impersonate him. The arrival of the real Mrs. Pullen and others leads to an impenetrable maze of confused identities, eventually resulting in Mrs. Pullen going off with the sheik, and Pullen installed, presumably permanently, as Sir Justin with all that entails, including his highly attractive wife.David Jepson gives his 9 member cast clever bits of business to perform, keeping the audience laughing all night long. He makes each character different than the others, with fantastic characterizations from them all.

David has a phone with a broken mouth piece and torn contracts aplenty for some gags during the show.Stage manager Beth Jepson keeps things running smoothly all night long while Tai Scavetta runs the sound and lighting cues. Farcical situations abound in this show with ambiguity, double entendres, mistaken identies, and the running in and out of the scenes constantly. The show has many funny one liners which keeps the audiences in stitches. The biggest scene stealer in this madcap farce is Keith Brayne as Arthur Pullen. The character is kind of boring with his long explanations of minute details but his nervous tics and fabulous facial expressions bring the house down with laughter. Keith is a natural born comedian and is a comic delight in this role. His antics have to be seen to be believed, especially when he prances about the stage pretending to be Stokes-Adam. Pullen turns the tables on those in charge, leading to sustained laughter and winning him a standing ovation at curtain call.

Ian Ramsden as Sir Justin, continually faints and says he is suffering from Stokes-Adams syndrome. The Sheik and others mistakenly believe Stokes-Adams to be a real person with gay leanings. Ian is funny as he drops off in to narcoleptic fits at a drop of a hat and has many funny lines and situations especially when he thinks he is at Kennedy airport when he is in the middle of his office. Kathleen Seagriff as Stella Richards, the call-girl who pretends to be Mrs. Pullen and a nurse, too. Her funniest moment comes when she exclaims that Sir Justin has just had a heart attack in the middle of having sex with her. Kathleen's other funny moment is when she exclaims to the real Mrs. Pullen when the Sheik becomes infatuated with her to Think of England and shut your eyes. She is a pretty brunette and plays the part to the hilt. Christine Reynolds is topnotch as she plays the befuddled Mrs. Pullen who shrieks at the craziness around her and only calms down when her husband holds a large knife. She gets what's coming to her in a bit of comic revenge at the end of the show. Carrie Heise well plays the role of the long suffering Lady Holbrook who knows her husband is a philanderer. She is concerned with his fainting spells, wants the doctor to take care of him and wins the day for herself at long last. Greg Bliven is terrific as the Sheik who runs roughshod over all the characters because of his enormous wealth. He is a hoot and eventually becomes smitten by Mrs. Pullen. He tells her not to go on holiday to Bournemouth that he will buy Bournemouth for her. Other funny roles wonderfully played include Sir Frederick Goudhurst, an older gentleman played by Brian Olsen who uses a gruff British voice for the role, Mr. Rubenstein, the Sheik's Jewish lawyer who works cheaply for him and has cousins all over the country played by John Cillino and the Doctor Cornish with a surprising secret of his own played by John Lamar. To say anymore about the plot will spoil the fun for the audience. So for a fun filled British farce, be sure to catch "Shut Your Eyes and Think of England".

"Shut Your Eyes And Think of England" (29 July - 28 August)
GRANITE THEATRE
@ 1 Granite Street, WESTERLY RI
1(401)596-2341

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