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Rob Groves and Simon Godziek’s new play is inspired by PG Wodehouse and has all the required ingredients with cut-glass tricksters, mistaken identities and witty absurdities. The cast are pitch perfect in their comfortable Wodehousian caricatures and manage to bring enough warmth to their roles as to engage us in their nostalgic world. Recent Poor School graduate Mark Donahue takes on foppish Charlie, the reluctant accomplice, with clear relish, while Eva Gray as the wistful Cecilia has a chance to shine in the second half in the difficult role of adding a little dramatic pathos to the fun. Pentameters’ production may give Saki cause to roll in his grave at the frivolity injected into his rather more sinister tale, but the result is a thoroughly enjoyable piece of light theatre to which Wodehouse would perhaps not give his name, but would certainly give his stamp of approval. A detailed set immediately transports an expectant audience to a wonderfully homely hotel by the sea in Chickerell, Dorset in 1932. This will be the hub of all the action in the play once the improvised train at centre stage has performed its duty. Good friends James Isaacs (Tom Yeates) and Ernest Huddlestone (Math Sams) return to Dorset from Kew on said train. En-route, James invokes Dante in an effort to suggest that Ernest and his sister, who remained at home, may be enduring something of a purgatorial existence, running their Seaview Hotel and not doing much else. This leads to the first of a great many misunderstandings in a story which positively heaves with them. There is another Dante, the local ice-cream vendor, and he is erroneously supposed to be the point of reference, not for the last time. Little threads like this one run through the plot providing commendable consistency in this largely farcical comedy. Brother and sister outfit, the captivating Virginia (Lucy Middleditch) and cad, Charlie, (Mark Donahue) happen to be co-passengers on the train to Dorset and they impulsively amend their travel plans so as to ensure a stop-off at the hotel they have heard mentioned. Their delightfully whimsical aim is to administer some of the unrest cure that they have heard James prescribe for Ernest and Cecilia (Eva Gray). The results prove hilariously disruptive and yield some very unexpected revelations. Word-play and misinterpretation propel the characters into comedic scenarios, and references to popular literature and theory delight the audience. At one stage a muddling Cecilia surmises that according to anarchists proper tea is theft and the proprietor of the local cat sanctuary is called Mr Schrödinger. Much of the wordplay is lost on former Eton boy Charlie, whose attention span is slight and grasp of nuances non-existent - he is truly the token “fathead”. In direct opposition is the character of James, who is earnest, informed and impeccably mannered at every turn and Tom Yeates is flawless in his portrayal of this unusually endearing all-rounder. The comedy really gathers pace in the second half, as confusion prevails and coincidences reach their climax when Edward, the Earl of Abbotsbury and uncle of Charlie and Virginia arrives, hankering after a tipple and speaking his mind. Small details on the set, designed by Daniel Raggett and Emily Hague, really tickle. The walls of The Sea View Hotel are adorned with pictures, solely of seascapes, re-enforcing the location. Following a collection of all the rose petals available, to provide a welcome to a special guest, even the two roses in a vase on the piano have lost their heads after the interval. A costume change sees the whole cast smarten up for the anticipated arrival of the special guest; both sets of costumes feel authentic and some attention has clearly been paid to their suitability. Virginia is attired especially well - a stylish two-piece makes way for a dashing polka-dot dress after the interval. Lucy Middleditch's outstandingly consistent performance cements her position as the central character upon which most of the action depends. In a lovelorn moment James plays “Night and Day” by Cole Porter on the hotel piano and croons away softly. Written in 1932, the year in which the play was set, and made famous by Fred Astaire, the choice of song is testament to the authenticity and wholeheartedness apparent in every single aspect of this production. Founder of Pentameters Theatre and producer of The Unrest Cure, Léonie Scott- Matthews describes the theatre as North London's best-kept secret. It would be an injustice to the wonderful theatre itself and this hugely entertaining production not to let you in on it. This determinedly old-fashioned comedy may not be to everybody's taste but it is of high quality and therefore is certain to amuse the vast majority of those tempted to give it a try.  While the co-writers, Simon Godziek and Rob Groves, refer to their creation as "A new period comedy inspired by PG Wodehouse", that refers to the style, whereas the subject matter owes at least as much to that glorious short story writer Hector Hugh Munro, better known as Saki. Designers Daniel Raggett and Emily Hague have done a fine job of creating the sitting room of the Sea View Hotel located in a fictional West Dorset town circa 1932. The furnishings look lavish and clearly they, along with Groves who directs, have gone to great trouble to ensure that everything runs like clockwork.  This is necessary, since the plot is primarily designed to accommodate as many jokes as can be fitted into two hours, and a number of them are visual. The co-writers were tempting fate by invoking the memory of PG Wodehouse since viewers would inevitably be expecting a certain style and comic quotient. In fact, they do a pretty good job of recreating the aura of the Master and the vast majority of the jokes have the audience delighted After hearing that the lives of brother and sister Ernest and Cecilia Huddlestone are filled with boredom, a second pair of siblings, a couple of young chancers named Virginia and Charlie, decide to create an unrest cure for them.  For anyone not devoted to Saki, this is the opposite of a rest cure, in that rather than calming the nerves of the recipients, it is designed to excite them to the level of frenzy. This certainly works, as the suggestion that the Prince of Wales will descend upon the empty guesthouse meets with gleeful panic, souped up by Ernest's best (and one would surmise only) friend James played by Tom Yeates.  The deliciously wicked Virginia, given mischief and energy by the splendid Lucy Middleditch, comes up with more and more contrived princely fads to test the patience and determination of the home team.  A convincing Math Sams is the typically Wodehousian Ernest, a 45-year-old overgrown schoolboy immaculately dressed in hideous slipover and period specs. He suffers, sacrificing both his kitty and rose garden to royalty.  Eva Gray's Cecilia does rather better in an unlikely ending, which leaves everyone on stage destined to live happily ever after. In her case, the arrival of Steven Blake who joyously portrays the younger siblings' splendidly stupid uncle turns the middle-aged spinster into the shy young thing that she once was. The writers are also well served by a cast who clearly enjoy the opportunity to take us back in time to the innocent pleasures of the era of Wodehouse, Saki and Coward.  There seems every prospect that this topping tale could have a life after its run at Pentameters ends. Though the body of work left by PG Wodehouse is vast, his fans' insatiable desire to retreat into his world of japes and jests amongst the middle classes is such that there's plenty of room to roll out some of his stock characters, throw them together and see what happens. And that's what Simon Godziek and Rob Groves have done in The Unrest Cure. Ernest (Math Sams) is worried about growing old too quickly, marking time in the hotel he runs with his spinster sister Cecilia (Eva Gray) in sleepy Chickerell. Ernest's friend James (Tom Yeates, who acts and sings charmingly) suggests an unrest cure - a rest cure in reverse, if you will, with action packed days rather than inaction packed days - which tickles the fancy of earwigging and spirited Virginia (Lucy Middleditch, sexy and just a bit scary) and her sidekick brother Charlie (Mark Donahue). They hatch a plan to create mayhem at the hotel and effect the unrest cure. Cue mistaken identities, love affairs ignited and reignited, friendships tested and a Bollywood dance routine carried off with a studied sensual seriousness that makes it all the funnier. It's all ridiculous of course - Wodehouse's admirers expect nothing less. They also expect witty wordplay, references to high culture amidst the farce and everything to be for the best in the end. They get all that and plenty of laughs too from a splendid cast, who are all but upstaged by the late entrance of what might be the Prince of Wales (Steven Blake) whose comic turn is worth the entrance fee alone! This new play based on familiar material certainly should not be kept secret - so take a walk up the narrow staircase and enter another world, more gentle, more funny and more silly than ours - and all the better for it. The Unrest Cure takes you back to the early 1930s, when English language and mannerisms seemed to belong to an era most modern folk would find themselves at loss with.  Don’t let that put you off, for this delightful ‘new’ period comedy has plenty to offer for 21st century audiences. Let’s start with the plot: During a railway journey, Ernest Huddlestone (Math Sams), the proprietor of the quiet ‘Sea View Hotel’ in Chickerell, West Dorset, complains to his friend James Isaacs (Tom Yeates) about a malady we all can relate to: being stuck in a rut. His sighs of boredom are overheard by young Virginia (Lucy Middleditch) and her foppish brother Charlie (Mark Donahue). The two are in seemingly high spirits… and in the mood for playing pranks! They decide to create some Puckish mischief by inflicting an ‘unrest cure’ for Ernest. As the name suggests, this is the opposite to a cure that promises rest and relaxation, instead driving the ‘patient’ into an almost frenzy-like state of unrest. James is also in on the wicked game. He lets on that none other than the Prince of Wales is soon to visit the little seaside hotel for a stay. While Ernest’s spinster sister Cecilia (Eva Gray) takes to the news with great excitement, Ernest works himself close to a nervous breakdown. Sporting specs even the NHS wouldn’t prescribe, and clothes that sum up his overall prim and proper persona, it’s hard to decide whether to feel sorry for him being made the butt of jokes or whether to giggle with the mischievous siblings. The audience opted for the giggles. Enter Edward (Steven Blake), and this comedy of confusions, mistaken identities, mysteries and quaint humour reaches almost screwball level. The cast are superb, with each and every one of the actors not only having a thorough understanding of the character they play, but having great fun with it. Math Sams’ strait-laced and bored Ernest is magnificently and gradually drifting into a state of manic unrest, while Mark Donahue is a delight to watch in his deadpan approach of the calculating and almost overconfident Charlie. And if you think it can’t get much better than that, wait until Steven Blake’s Edward makes his entrance, he brings the house down! Really, who would have thought that ‘Sagittarian vs. Vegetarian’ jokes could be so funny! On the female front, we have a bubbly Lucy Middleditch as the wickedly scheming Virginia, a part she dons with such gusto and conviction - we can’t wait what mischief she might come up with next. In contrast, Eva Gray as Ernest’s sister Cecilia hits the right note as a ‘lady of a certain age’ whose state of mind drifts between pathos, disillusionment, hope and longing for fulfilment.  Last but not least, Tom Yeates’ bumbling character James is challenged by tbeing too shy to display his true feelings for Virginia… but never too shy to come up with the next bundle of lies to fool poor, unassuming Ernest even further. Yeates’ is excellent in acting out the whole scale. Audiences will furthermore be amused to see Pentameters doyenne Léonie Scott Matthews in the part of wide-eyed and overexcited tea lady Mrs. Thomas. The Unrest Cure is directed with great panache and an impeccable feel for the play’s period style and comic timing by Rob Groves, with additional help from Daniel Raggett and Simon Godziek. ERNEST Huddlestone is overheard by two youngsters declaring that he and his sister are stuck in a middle-aged rut that seems to have struck prematurely.  His friend James Isaacs, inspired by his recent reading of Saki’s short stories, proposes an Unrest Cure, suggesting Ernest may be suffering from over-repose and may be in need of a good jolt to shake him out of it.  While Ernest rejects the idea, the two eavesdropping young siblings, Charlie and Virginia, charitably decide to administer this Unrest Cure themselves.  The next day they arrive at Ernest and Cecelia Huddlestone’s quiet Sea View Hotel with news that the Prince of Wales is coming to stay. The Unrest Cure is inspired by writers Simon Godziek and Rob Groves’ mutual admiration for the works of PG Wodehouse, and his influence courses through the play from first line to last.  The result is a light-hearted but engaging show, full of farce, fun and foppishness.  At times the pace is slightly hindered by the writers’ ambitious but authentic recreation of Wodehouse’s language, but generally the actors navigate the challenging script successfully, delivering the groan-worthy puns to great effect.  The frazzled Ernest is played superbly by Math Sams, while the appearance of Steven Blake in the second half provides a highly rewarding comedic pay-off for the groundwork laid in the first half.  From the serious work of Saki and the witty inspiration of Wodehouse, the writers have produced a thoroughly satisfying and entertaining play. ‘A wonderful comic collection of misunderstandings and delicious play-on-words’ - Manjinder Toor I travel up some stairs and down the corridor to a charming 1930’s living room. The homey touches, add to this set’s character; leaving you with the feeling that you’ve entered the Sea View Hotel, where our play is set, rather than a carefully constructed stage. The grand scale of the set draws in the audience, and the sound of Peggy Lee, invokes nostalgic images of high tea and sounds of drawing-room banter. The play is homage to the quintessential British playwright, PG Wodehouse, and the light-hearted punchy prose works well. A nice touch is the play’s attempt to also address today’s audience with witty satirical asides about current politics. With a packed house, the interest in this world premiere is evident. The opening action of the play takes place on-board a train compartment on the way to the Sea View Hotel. Kind-hearted James and Hotel Owner Ernest are friends who are discussing Ernest’s predicament of feeling trapped within his mundane routine. An ‘Unrest Cure’ is the amusing solution suggested, but it is soon passed off as nonsense. Unbeknownst to them, their conversation is overheard by mischievous brother and sister pairing, Virginia and Charlie, who take it upon themselves to administer this plan to further their own amusement. What follows is a series of wonderfully setup trials- planned and unplanned- that collectively make this play a wonderful comic collection of misunderstandings and delicious play-on-words. In the style of Wodehouse, the characters are good yet eccentric personae, each carrying endearing and funny traits. Ernest and Cecilia can be looked upon as the stuck-in-a-rut self-created victims, who innocently succumb to the tricksters, Virginia and Charlie. The latter characters have a warm-hearted concern at the heart of their enjoyment and their jubilant personae add great energy. James works brilliantly as the hard-done-by accomplice, who tells animated stories of past missions. Edward’s presence provides laugh-out-loud brutal honesty, which is in stark contrast to his obsession with war. A varied and professional cast bring the light-hearted quips to life and engage the audience with thoughtfully-crafted characters. Time well spent. I find that ‘delicate’ acting always requires special praise, and that praise must go to the whole cast for maintaining truth of feeling- a considerable feat under the pressure of close proximity to the audience. Some notable beautiful moments include Virginia’s simple yet expressive marvelling of James’ love (mesmerising), the utter misery of Ernest and comic pathos of Cecila are keenly felt and yet hopelessly funny. We are also treated to a very accomplished piano solo, enhancing the mood of the scene to genuine glamour. I feel unrest considering the fact that Plum Roll Productions have a new project in the pipeline, and all we can do is wait until we hear more.
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Plum Roll Productions