Be advised- there is some adult content in this review. In the days before the internet, one might have wondered where people got their pornography. Well, in Kensington Arts Theatre’s “No Sex Please, We’re British,” one couple finds out, to much comic effect. The British farce is now playing at Kensington Town Hall through March 8th, 2020. “No Sex Please, We’re British” is much in keeping with the zany sex comedies of the ’60s and ’70s with a great deal of misunderstandings and near misses.
This is the story of newlyweds Peter (Dash Samari) and Frances (Kelly Dobkins). They are currently living in a flat owned by the bank that employs Peter, which also happens to be downstairs. They are soon joined by two unwelcome visitors; nosy coworker and “friend” Brian (Noah Steurer) and then Peter’s overbearing mother Eleanor (Jill Vanderweit). Frances mentions that she sent away for some Scandinavian glassware to sell to help with the finances, but she’s shocked when it’s not bowls and glasses that arrive – instead, it’s dirty pictures! Peter and Brian are quickly drawn into the plot to try and dispose of the pornography, trying to hide it from Eleanor, their boss at the bank Mr. Bromhead (Stephen Swift), the local Superintendent Paul (Ted Culler), and then the visiting bank inspector (Ken Kemp.) However, instead of getting better, things quickly exacerbate, ending with a very full apartment complete with some scantily clad guests (Alison Starr and Kristen Scott.)
There is definitely a “Benny Hill” vibe throughout this show for those who remember the TV show. The show is a British farce written by Alistair Foot and Anthony Marriott, which premiered in London’s West End on June 3rd, 1971. While it was almost universally panned by critics, it was incredibly popular with audiences and ran for 16 years to packed houses. It didn’t do as well when it came to Broadway, though and closed after only 16 performances. Kensington Arts Theatre’s production brings all the sauciness of the source material but infuses a ton of fun into it along the way.
Samari does a great job as the anchor of the piece, hitting all the right notes and building his level of stress and exasperation as the show goes on. Dobkins also shines as a wife who makes a simple mistake that kicks off the whole crisis. Her best moments are when she is throwing sarcasm at her mother-in-law. Speaking of Eleanor, Vanderweit strikes a great balance between overbearing matriarch and thirsty temptress. Swift brings gravitas to his role as the boss and developing suitor for Eleanor, and Kemp turns in a hilarious turn as the bank investigator who just wants a good night’s sleep. There are fantastic British accents all around, especially impressive since I don’t believe any of the actors are actually of the British persuasion. While the entire cast was entertaining and enjoyable, Steurer absolutely steals the show. His comedic timing and physicality are responsible for some truly hysterical moments. He was recently seen in another British role, as the famous Sherlock Holmes, which was a much more serious role. It was impressive to see him slip so easily into comedy and do it so fantastically.
The production value was also raised by an excellent set and costumes. As for most British farces, this show calls for lots of doors for rapid entrances and exits. This set makes sure all the shenanigans in the show are able to happen. It’s also time period appropriate and fun (Set Design by Billy Kassay). Costumes were also a great addition, helping to bring the characters to life (Costumes by Stephanie Yee). Overall it was a fun romp that cracked up the sold-out crowd. Congratulations to director Bruce Hirsch for a great production of a saucy British treat.
Running Time: 2 hours and 15 minutes, with one intermission.
Advisory: This show has adult language, situations, and some scantily clad ladies. As a result, this show is recommended for audiences 16 and older.
“No Sex Please, We’re British,” presented by Kensington Arts Theatre is now playing at Kensington Town Hall through March 8th, 2020. For information on tickets, click here.