By Brandon Thomas
Royal Exchange Theatre, 28 June 2010
Such a play, and in such an uplifting production as this, will be rightly treasured by the granny tranny troupe and their many fans and lovers.
The play moves along at a speedy (one might almost say jildy) pace: romance, intrigue, coincidence and comedy are all to be found here, and relished and enjoyed.
Oliver Gomm, terrific as the eponymous aunt (and some Lord), gave the outstanding performance of the night: a proper rum ‘un and no mistaking it.
If a nice line in priggish, yet sometimes sycophantic and ingratiating, and always ever so slightly hypocritical guardians of young girls is to your fancy, then you’ll also enjoy Malcolm Rennie’s fine turn as Stephen Spettigue, the guardian of one or two beloveds. He pulls it off to a T.
Not unnaturally, perhaps, the play brought to mind P.G. Wodehouse: it has the same jokey portrayal of venality, stupidity and crass conceit among the upper classes. But I learnt after that Charley’s Aunt was premiered in 1892, a decade or so before Wodehouse wrote his first novel. So any influence went towards the creator of Bertie Wooster.
Both Russell Dixon as Lady Bracknell in The Importance of Being Earnest and Oliver Gomm here have, by-the-by, performed a sterling social service. They have shown us that granny trannies have no need to lurk in the shadows and the supermarket corridors. No, they should be out and about (on a bus pass, no doubt) and proud. Today Manchester, tomorrow the world!
Charley’s Aunt is at the Royal Exchange Theatre until 7 August. Details here.