WITH talk of a troubled financial climate peppered throughout Key For Two, you could be forgiven for thinking it’s a 2012-set play.
Despite its backdrop of cash gloom, this frothy 1980s farce is a perfect antidote to the current economic climate and laughs are guaranteed.
Kept woman Harriet is leading a very cosy life, as the mistress of both fisherman Alec and advertising executive Gordon, with each contributing to the costs of her flat and ‘Mummy’s’ vodka habits.
Chaos ensues when her childhood friend Anne turns up from New Zealand, having ditched her vet husband fed up with his drinking, and Gordon slips on Alec’s fish breaking his leg.
Leading the cast as mistress Harriet is Kate Roberts, in faultless form.
Clear, quick and never once dropping her character, even though she scacely left the stage throughout the madcap goings on in her small flat-turned-private nursing home.
Her descent into dispair as madness reigned was fantastic, and her interaction with each of the other key roles was spot on.
Jacqui Mooney as Anne made a brilliant foil to her friend’s scheming, picking up the plots and dropping them off with impecable timing - I’d have just liked to have seen more extremes in the changes, and in the moments the friendship looked set to snap.
After a slightly quiet start, Robert Talbot got into his stride as Gordon with a slightly nervous disposition, befitting a man lying to his wife about missing her birthday meal.
And David Batterby attacked the brasher love interest with great success.
Roger Boardman’s direction was sharp throughout, and while the action between rooms was snappy it could have been more so in the first act; this will only improve with set familiarity by the cast - and indeed did so after the interval.
The action really took off in the second act, as plots thickened and deceptions threatened to unravel, and cameo roles from irate wives Magda and Mildred, Shirley Watsaon and Debra Hart only served to add to the mayhem.
Perhaps bringing some of the biggest laughs of the night was Robin Brown as drunken vet Richard. Playing drunk can be tricky, especially in a farce situation, but he got the balance between the sublime and the ridiculous spot on for me, without going over the top.
His boozed-up perpetual motion, when not passed out, was very well done.
A special mention for Vick Keough’s set which was perfectly scaled to be a believable two-bedroom flat, with none of the cluttered, cramped sense you can sometimes get with single sets and the chopping and changing action of a farce.
*Key For Two, Blackburn Drama Club, Thwaites Empire Theatre, until Saturday, 7.30pm.