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 The Theatreguide.London Review

Auntie And Me
Wyndham's Theatre     Winter-Spring 2003

Morris Panych's play is constructed like a stand-up comic's routine, a string of one-liners and brief jokes, with barely time to stop laughing between them.

(To allow for this, it is built out of an endless number of very short scenes, most less than a minute, just enough time for a couple of gags and a blackout.)

There are enough jokes, and enough of them are good, that you will probably laugh a lot, though you may feel by the end that the barely 90-minute work doesn't have much body as a play.

A hapless shnook comes to visit the dying aunt he barely knows. But as the old lady unaccountably refuses to go gently into that good night, what begin as faux pas ("I spoke to a funeral director today") lapse into increasing frustration ("I'm concerned about your health. It seems to be improving") and then into black comic attempts to encourage the stubborn old dear to keep her overdue appointment with the Reaper.

Meanwhile the young man's accounts of his own comically miserable life also take the humour into dark directions, though never too far to be laughed away. There is a satisfyingly surprising plot twist near the end, though the denouement is disappointingly predictable.

Alan Davies, an experienced stand-up comic, delivers the one-liners with expert timing and throw-away ease.

Margaret Tyzack is silent through 90 per cent of the play, and gives what amounts to a Master Class in comic mime, displaying an extraordinary repertoire of reactions, non-reactions, double-takes and baleful looks. If you are wise, you will keep your eyes glued to her, even when he is talking.

It doesn't add up to much, and almost any Alan Ayckbourn play, for example, covers similar territory more satisfyingly. But if all you want is 90 minutes of light humour delivered by skilled professionals, you're better off here than in any comedy club.

Gerald Berkowitz

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Review of  Auntie And Me - Wyndham's Theatre 2003
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