I spent the weekend out in the suburbs at my mum’s house, for a couple of blissful days that revolved primarily around sitting on the sofa, eating my way through a packet of dark chocolate-dipped ginger biscuits and wading through the Sunday papers. God knows how I found the time, but I did manage to crow-bar a trip to Richmond Theatre into my hectic schedule - to see English Touring Theatre’s revival of Terence Rattigan’s French Without Tears. Written in 1936, it’s a frothy comedy set on the west coast of France where a group of would-be diplomats are taking French classes. It’s all rather so-so stuff – until the interval when everything kind of clicks and the precision of Rattigan’s comic writing reveals itself. The second half was very well executed and very, very funny, as the three principal male characters fret and fuss about the advances of a predatory female in their midst. It’s dated, inevitably, but still highly entertaining.
It’s been ages since I’ve been to see anything at Richmond and luckily there was a classic Richmond audience in to make the experience complete. Two elderly ladies a couple of rows behind me were having a good old catch-up chat that continued well in to the first act, a woman a few seats along from me was busy repeating every joke, word for word, to her mother, and – just for good measure – there were a couple of near-fatal-sounding coughing spasms too, seemingly planned, as these things are, to coincide with the very quietest on-stage episodes.