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Monkey's Uncle

By David Lewis

Backyard Productions was excited to have secured the rights to present the New Zealand Premiere of David Lewis’ latest comedy, 'Monkey’s Uncle', which had its world premiere only last year in the UK. 'Monkey’s Uncle' works on the principle that the life of the famous French farceur Georges Feydeau was so farcical in its own right that it would make a brilliant basis for, well, a farce. And this is exactly what Lewis has written.

'Monkey’s Uncle' examines the mayhem caused when our animal instincts come into conflict with our civilised veneers. It is a post-modern homage to Feydeau, the master of multiple exits and entrances, mistaken identities and fumbled encounters in hotel rooms. Feydeau struggles to write a new play while grappling with the increasingly complex goings-on between his wife, mistress, friends and servants. Love notes fall into the wrong hands, intentions are misinterpreted and events spiral rapidly towards a disastrous liaison at the Hotel Terminus.

In the final act things are given a very different spin. While retaining Feydeau’s familiar home-hotel-home narrative structure, the action leaps forwards to the 21st century where George, a playwright is writing a farce based on Feydeau’s life. In this final segment all the characters return in contemporary guises.

Troubled marriages, rampant affairs, professional jealousy and an organ grinder’s monkey are just some of the ingredients of this very clever play from the author of ‘Misconceptions’ – critically acclaimed NZ Premier also presented by Backyard Productions in 2005. Director Rodney Bane, who also directed ‘Misconceptions’, gathered together an experienced cast to present this frenetically funny play.Joel Allen played the writer Feydeau. Nicola Pauling was his harassed and put-upon wife Marianne. Mark Harris took the role of Dr Didier, friend and confidant, while Meredith Dooley played the love interest of both men, and the wife of the bumbling Inspector Habillot, played by Alex Ness. Rounding off the ensemble were Andrew Waterson as the up-and-coming writer Louis Lavasseur and Carol Reed who played the 'maid' Yvette.

Like all farces, 'Monkey’s Uncle' has its fair share of lost clothes, mistaken identities and a great many entrances and exits! However, there are unexpected twists, turns and surprises all the way to the final curtain.