It Runs in the Family

Tickles the funny bones quite shamelessly..!

Ballard School

story by:

Ray Cooney

directed by:

Ann Ramm

What's it about?

A selection of photos of this show are in the gallery further down the page. To view the complete set of photos please click on this link:

Set in a hospital, It Runs in the Family contains the usual assortment of farcical nuts running in and out of doors mistaking everybody for someone else, as Dr. Mortimore tries to fend off a paternity suit, an ex wife, a punkish daughter and various other lunatics so that he may, at last, deliver the Ponsonby Lecture in an international conference.

Review of the Show

If I were to begin trying to explain the plot of It Runs in the Family, I’d soon become very stuck. Not that the play itself is a difficult concept but the endless trail of lies by the characters make it rather hard to follow. Loosely, the story is one ridiculously hilarious lie after another as Dr Mortimore tries to hide his illegitimate child from his wife and himself from the child. As the web of lies gets more tangled, he has to call on the help of his colleague, Dr Bonney, to assist with covering his tracks. With hilarious consequences, half of the hospital staff end up getting involved in the big lie in same way, whether they know it or not. It’s incredibly confusing, but delightfully so to watch.

The New Forest Players take on the characters with much energy. Their comedic timing is exquisite, their acting not so much. There are moments are awkwardness on stage, whether that’s intended or not it’s unclear to see, but there’s uncertainty between the actors which gives it a distinctly uncomfortable feel. Aside from that rather nervous start, it’s a joy to see that the comedy isn’t lost with joke after joke giving you plenty to smile about. Whilst some jokes are better received than others, the majority of the time you’ll have no problem laughing as the hilarious confusion unfolds. With comedy from costumes, puns and even a few cheeky innuendos, whatever makes you laugh, you’ll find in this show. A brilliant farce – it quite simply defines the word.

Stand out performances aren’t from the main characters but more from their supporting cast. Carol Catton as Rosemary Mortimore and John Langridge as Bill were particular favourites of mine. From Rosemary’s suspicion and confusion about her husband’s activities, to Bill’s purely bizarre personality the two characters are portrayed brilliantly – relatable, believable and side-splittingly funny. Aside from this pair, Alan Whitty, Jack Haberfield, and Richard Fereday perform well in their roles as Dr Bonney, Leslie and Dr Connolly respectively. The company as a whole has great energy, despite the slight awkward chemistry between them.

Whilst the set is quite basic (even for an am-dram performance), special care has been taken in the details to make it seem authentic. Who really cares about the doors that stick and don’t always close properly when you also have a working clock set to the time of the action taking place, an actual toilet in the ‘bathroom’ and a fully functioning window which opens and closes (playing a key part in much of the action).

Not to ruin the ending, but it is a little disappointing. Not the fault of the New Forest Players though, as if anything they improve throughout their performance.

It may leave you feeling exhausted after keeping up with the confusing lies and remembering who knows the truth, but that’s just half the fun of it. If you think the NHS is bad, it has nothing on this hospital. Thank god it only exists in fictional theatreland!

Keziah Leary – Scene One