“There’s far too much sex in this hotel and I’m not having any of it”
The things I do for Josefina Gabrielle… Whilst I am more than happy to revisit the Chocolate Factory once Gabrielle joins up in the major cast change soon, I had to be dragged to the Menier Chocolate Factory to see her in Ray Cooney’s Two Into One, my natural aversion to farce meaning I was more than happy to give it a miss. But a cheap deal on tickets plus the promise of gin saw me head out on a Sunday and have the slightly depressing inevitability of my preconceptions being proven right.
If we’re to believe scions of our national press, this is “a classic farce” and if we don’t like (or the genre as a whole), we’re “sourpusses…more to be pitied than censured”. Which says it all really. If you’re of a certain generation, as much of this audience was, and brought on a certain style of humour, then Ray Cooney will be right up your street. And a thirty year old political farce which makes no concession for the time past since it was written will more than likely have you chortling down the aisles.
But this is dessicated comedy, paper-thin stuff that overly relies on hackneyed routines that even Russ Abbot would toss out as old hat. Surnames like Willey abound, comedy foreigners put on accents, old people strike kung fu moves…you get the idea. The dialogue is end-of-the-pier stuff at best that revels in being ‘saucy’ but is so utterly rooted in the past, such a relic from a bygone age that it almost feels redundant to call it out on it. It should probably be noted that Cooney directs his own play here, as well as starring in it.
Dedicated farceurs might point out it is well constructed, and the comings and goings and slammings of numerous doors do indeed have a relentlessly well-plotted dynamic in the second act. But you really have to be a fan to even begin to enjoy this and to be honest, it is hard not to imagine that there are more sourpusses than not out there.