Re-review: Jack Absolute Flies Again, National Theatre

I absolutely adore Jack Absolute Flies Again again at the National Theatre, this is one not to miss when it comes to NTLive in October

“I’m a dramatic device!”

I adored the National Theatre’s Jack Absolute Flies Again when I first saw it, to the point where I knew I would have to see it again as I was missing jokes from laughing so hard (particularly where Caroline Quentin’s Mrs Malaprop was concerned). And so I was glad to be able to catch it in its final week in the Olivier, with a Friday night audience that was absolutely loving it and a different perspective coming from a seat at the back of the stalls.

It should come as little surprise that Quentin has the skill to sell her broad comedy stylings to every level of this cavernous space but to make it land so consistently funnily really is impressive. And in what is one of my performances of the year so far, Kerry Howard’s fourth-wall-smashing Lucy matches her for capturing the audience in her hand with her rib-tickling zingers aimed at both the posh people onstage and in the seats.

And I found myself much more emotionally involved in the show this time around. Knowing what is coming undoubtedly heightens the feeling and I cried a lot more, not just at the end but at several moments throughout. Richard Bean and Oliver Chris’ take on Sheridan’s The Rivals adds in layers of Rattigan-esque poignancy so that moments of profundity are never too far away even as the humour verges on the ridonkulous.

Shoutouts have to go once again to Jordan Metcalfe’s legs, and indeed Helena Wilson’s way with a dramatic faint. Peter Forbes’ bumptious Sir Antony displays impeccable comic timing and Tim Steed’s delicate work as tragicomic intelligence officer Brian Coventry affected me much more as he tries in vain to maintain order and repress his own longings. Most of all though, it is just such a pleasure to laugh so unabashedly throughout a show – too often comedies don’t hit my funnybone as much as everyone elses so it is good, for once, to be amongst those laughing the loudest.

Running time: 2 hours 30 minutes (with interval)
Photos: Brinkhoff-Möegenburg
Jack Absolute Flies Again is booking at the National Theatre until 3rd September
It will be broadcast as part of NT Live on Thursday 6th October

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