Despite getting more dated with every passing year, French farce refuses to go away. Marc Camoletti’s Changing Rooms is lesser-known than his 1960s hit Boeing Boeing but it’s mixture of faux salacious sex, partner swapping and door slamming is as predictable as children shouting “it’s behind you” in a pantomime.
In a solidly directed production by Anna Ostergren, set in the 1980s, Massaratti owner Bernard and his vampish wife Jacqueline attempt to smuggle their younger lovers, Robert and Brigette, into their plush home, each believing the other to be away. Caught in the middle of the ensuing chaos is their housekeeper, Nana, wryly played by Jill Stanford. “Get your trousers on!” she exclaims, between extorting cash, as this quartet of dippy extroverts gallivant in and out of their bedrooms in outfits ranging from silk dressing gowns and silver pants to ropes and frilly corsets.
The likeable cast give lively performances and are at their best when playing their archetypical roles with understatement, the dialogue being heightened enough without wry nods and winks to the audience. When Robert and Brigette finally realise that their users and abusers are “over the hill” and not the gods they once seemed, it’s surprisingly satisfying. Perhaps times are changing after all.
The Drayton Arms, London. Until 21 December.
Written for The Stage