Fur Coat and No Knickers (1986)

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Poster by Poster Designer

by Mike Harding

Directed & Designed by Charles Cheetham

Performances: Sun 2nd – Sat 8th March 1986, Bell Theatre


Text about the play




  • 'Measure of fun at the Bell'.

'With cutbacks and retrenchment on all sides, the arts these days are living in a siege economy, but you would hardly think so from Mike Harding's "Fur Coat and No Knickers". As playwright, the popular comedian peoples his stage with a cast list as long as your arm, and demands no fewer than eight sets. We pass in procession through five different pubs and clubs on the stag night booze-up preceding the wedding of sparky Deirdre Ollerenshawe to local businessman's son, Mark Greenhalgh. Charles Cheetham's production of the play opened at South London Theatre's Bell Theatre on Sunday and runs till Saturday. It is well cast and presented in a caricatured style which makes the most of its many funny lines and its general air of cheerful vulgarity. Yet we see in this gallery of comic types, not so much a play as a festive telling of a typical Harding between-songs tall tale. The characters all introduce themselves in vignettes, there's trouble on the stag night, wedding and reception take place, speeches are delivered and the families end with a glorious punch-up. In the process, a joke about a neighbouring dog gets flogged to death. Ruth Shettle gets the chance to let her hair down, and takes it, as the busy, bustling Edith Ollerenshawe. Paul Campion is her husband, Harry, a Hitler sympathiser with a redeeming sense of humour. Sylvia Keeler gives a gutsy display as the bride, robustly supported by Matthew and James Lyne as her two brothers, the first a bit of a Jack the Lad, the second an abrasive left-wing reporter. Indeed, the production plays it right down the Lyne, for the families crowning glory is none other than John Lyne himself as the rorty old grandfather, forever scrounging double rums, lusting after the girls and making provocative remarks to the inspired Eileen Biccaregui as the groom's stuck-up mother. Leslie Lidyard plays the Irish priest, getting drunker and drunker by the moment as he wrestles with the devil and a blow-up doll acquired at a night club. Peter Adams puts in some sound work as the groom's chum, Hamish, lending a touch of needed contrast to the pub-crawl. It is an evening of incidental pleasures rather than integrated satisfaction. But at least they are scattered liberally along the way.'

  • Donald Madgwick (The Croydon Advertiser, reprinted in SCENE with permission)


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