„Funny Business“ – The New Play at the English Theatre of Hamburg

Want another drink, Madam?

Forget about rain and cold, have a nice hot cup’a tea and later take your seat in The English Theatre. No seat belts needed. Are you fit for fun? Okay, off we go to a small hotel – a bit seedy, but cosy in a way – in the English countryside that is already waiting for you. Make yourself comfortable and enjoy this hilarious farce written by Derek Benfield.
The plot:
Ferris (extremely funny as usual Stephen Chance), the clumsy receptionist who is replacing his sister while she is away on holiday in Spain, has obviously not been schooled to run a hotel. Anyway, he tries his best to please his guests and accepts generous tips from his clients with a broad smile. Judy (Jan Hirst), a married woman who is expecting her lover Henry (David Habbin) to spend a romantic weekend with him is full of remorse. What about her hubby when he finds out that… Oh, forget it for the time being. Ferris offers her the honeymoon suite, the best room in the house. First come, first serve. One guest after the other arrives. The second one is Angela (Debbie Radcliffe), a middle-aged attractive woman who never denies a drink, be it champagne or gin, is given one of the smaller rooms on the first floor. Why did she come to this place? Ferris is bewildered. Could she possibly be the journalist who is expected to write an article for a well-known magazine about the hotel? Ferris’ sister gave him the order to offer his best service to that writer. However, she neither told him the name of that person nor did she inform him about the sex of the writer. Man or woman – that’s the question. Ferris decides that it must be Angela and asks Judy and Henry in not too friendly a way to leave the honeymoon suite.

Let´s put Mr. Johnson into the closet.

Doors are opened and closed noisily, and the guests complain being sent upstairs and downstairs to other rooms that are far too small. The next one to arrive is Edgar (Blake Askew), a man like a boxer who suspects his wife of sharing a room with a lover and threatens to kill that bloke on the spot. Judy is shivering with fear. She knows from experience that Edgar, her husband, does not hesitate a minute to knock down a rival. Surprise, surprise! All of a sudden the play takes an unexpected turn. When Angela enters the lobby, she declares that she has been married to Edgar for many years without having seen him for a long time. Edgar, the bigamist – shame on him! For the first time in his life he blushes and confesses that he never divorced Angela. Thus, his marriage to Judy is a fake and illegal at that. Lucky Judy who got rid of that brutal fellow without really trying and now is free for Henry. All’s well that ends well after all?  Of course not.  Everybody who knows Derek Benfield and his oeuvre also knows that he has still something up his sleeve. This time it is Mr. Johnson (hilarious Gil Sutherland), a youngish man with a red face who is after the ladies in the hotel like the devil. By the way, he has swallowed a pill that makes him feel virile and extremely sexy. It is quite a job for Ferris, Edgar and Henry to calm Mr. Johnson.

Watch out, my friend. I´m furious  with you. Photos: English Theatre Hamburg.

Finally they lock him in a closet where he is totally undisturbed and can enjoy some “gentleman’s” magazines. In the meantime the funny business moves along at a fast pace in and outside the house. Dear spectator, do you have an idea who the hell might be the journalist expected to write an article about this hotel in the middle of nowhere? If so, please keep it to yourself. As a matter of fact, Ferris is totally confused and does not have the slightest idea who could possibly be the mysterious writer. The identity of that person is only revealed in the very last minutes of this farcial comedy, performed by six wonderful actors and directed by Robert Rumpf. Thank you all for a most amusing evening on a rainy day in autumnal Hamburg.

We are pleased to meet actors such as Jan Hirst, Debbie Radcliffe and Stephen Chance again. These three we already call members of the TET family. See you next time! British author Derek Benfield (1926 until 2009) is also well known to the audience. We remember some amusing plays written by him, for instance “Touch and Go, ”Don’t lose the Place” and “Anyone for Breakfast.”

Final performance of “Funny Business” on February 1, 2020
Tickets under phone number 040 – 227 70 89, online booking under www.englishtheatre.de

Next premiere: “Apologia” a play by Alexi Kaye Campbell, on February 13, 2020.