Zack, Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester
Thursday 06 January 2011
There cannot be many plays in which the hero is a waddling, bearded ne'er-do-well who is dissed by his family and pushed around by all. Harold Brighouse's 1920s comedy Zack (less well known than his earlier Hobson's Choice) has such a figure at its heart.
This gentle revival by Greg Hersov does not attempt to spice up the story. But the production does enjoy the advantage of having Justin Moorhouse, a popular local stand-up, playing Zachariah Munning, an engaging innocent whose docile demeanour has women literally falling into his arms. Trapped into an engagement to Samantha Power's coquettish Martha Wrigley that he's just too nice to oppose, he even has the audience uttering a sympathetic "aw" as he exits, intimidated by her bullying father, Joe (James Quinn).
As is too often the case with this type of farce, however, the set-up is laboured. Polly Hemingway's starchy Mrs Munning spars with a tediously presumptuous parlourmaid as the Munning household prepares for a visit from rich Cousin Virginia. Quite why this sparky young lady, splendidly portrayed by Kelly Price, should consider marriage to the older Munning son, slimy Paul, is never clear. Nor is it conceivable that Mrs Munning would allow a revolting trio of men into her parlour uninvited – and then serve them beer and cheese – as she does here.
The plot brings together two principals – but not the two whom Mrs Munning would prefer. For Zack, it turns out, has a knack. In the family business of wedding planning and provision he charms the guests, bringing much needed warmth. But while he turns out to be the business's biggest asset, he is also its most sought-after groom.
Moorhouse brings a twinkle to a dullish play, and the mime scene between the brothers as one sharpens knives, the other watching hawkishly, is alone worth the ticket.
To 22 January (0161 833 9833)
tv Review: Miranda Hart and co deliver the festive goods
tvReview: Older generation get hot under the collar this Christmas
comedy Erm...he seems to be back
tvReview: No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa
tv Gymnast Louis Smith triumphed in the Christmas special
Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites
TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 PlayStation and Xbox hacked by Lizard Squad
- 2 Katie Hopkins speaks out on childhood obesity: 'Parents of fat children should be prosecuted for child cruelty'
- 3 The Grace Dent Christmas Questionnaire
- 4 The 'Black Museum': After 150 years, public set to see exhibits from police’s grisly crime museum
- 5 British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Downton Abbey Christmas special 2014, review: Love is everywhere, actually
Felicity Jones on being Stephen Hawking's wife in The Theory of Everything: 'I didn't want her to be a saint'
EastEnders Christmas special, review: Brilliant Danny Dyer glues you to your seat
Game of Thrones season five: First preview clip shows a beardy Tyrion, a moody Cersei and a distressed Arya
The Interview finally gets US release after Sony hack and terror threats – but reviews of North Korea satire are mixed
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Rozanne Duncan: Ukip expels councillor for 'jaw-dropping' comments made in BBC TV interview
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Ukip member gets into Christmas spirit with Union Flag plea to Santa 'for our country back'
BBC director Danny Cohen: Rising UK antisemitism makes me feel more uncomfortable than ever
Alex Salmond has 'broken his word to the Scottish people' says Scottish Lib Dem leader