Enter a world of buffoonish toffs and their simpering ladies; add a sprinkling of farce and stir, with hilarious results.
A new version of Charley’s Aunt, by West Country-based Creative Cow theatre company, is on tour and has just been performed for three nights in Chesterfield.
Oxford undergraduates Jack Chesney and Charley Wykeham are preparing to propose to girlfriends Kitty and Amy but a chaperone is needed.
Charley’s Aunt is arriving from Brazil and the boys hope she will do the honours but a telegram arrives saying her trip is delayed.
So the pair enlist friend Lord Fancourt Babberley to dress up in her place – but then the real aunt arrives.
Cue chaotic scenes involving the Aunt in drag and the real Aunt, who even end up bumping into each other.
Meanwhile, Jack’s father discovers that Charley’s Aunt was an old flame of his and decides he wants to marry her.
Jonathan Parish and Mark Smedley are perfectly cast as foppish dandies Jack and Charley, who fawn over the ladies but are also shameless snobs.
Jack is quite rude and demanding of man-servant Brassett, and despairs of what might become of him if his father’s money runs out – while his and Charley’s daft plot nearly comes back to bite them.
Petticoat-clad Babberley is almost Little Britain-ish with his pretence to be Charley’s Aunt, waving his fan and speaking in a ridiculously high-pitched ‘I’m a lady’ voice.
Whereas the real Aunt, Katherine Senior, is quite savvy, pragmatic and down to earth.
Brilliantly-funny, perfect costumes and well-acted – even Boris Johnson might chortle.