Monty Python star John Cleese brings new comedy Bang Bang to Dartford

PUBLISHED: 07:00 03 March 2020

Stop that, it's silly.  John Cleese loves his farce and there is plenty of that in Bang Bang. Picture: Paul Blakemore

Stop that, it's silly. John Cleese loves his farce and there is plenty of that in Bang Bang. Picture: Paul Blakemore


Of course it’s a farce – Monty Python icon John Cleese is behind it.

John Cleese can't get away from his love of farce. Picture: Paul BlakemoreJohn Cleese can't get away from his love of farce. Picture: Paul Blakemore

His chaotic Bang Bang! is actually based on Monsieur Chasse by Georges Feydeau.

The Cleese version stars Only Fools & Horses star Tessa Peake-Jones, Tony Gardner and Wendi Peters. But not Cleese, let's get that out of the way now.

He makes his stage writing debut with a hilarious new adaptation of this classic comedy.

It is a delicious blend of French farce and Fawlty Towers and will be at The Orchard Theatre, Dartford, from April 14 to 18.

Bang Bang! tells the story of Leontine, a respectable society lady and her cheating husband, Duchotel.

He pretends to go hunting but is really chasing after other well-dressed - or undressed - prey, so she vows to take revenge on the philanderer.

But while Duchotel's away, his lifelong fried comes around calling - and it turns out he's on the hunt too.

Will Leontine get caught in his sights, or instead set a trap of her own?

Secrets unravel as the devilish Duchotel finds himself snared in a door-slamming, trouser-dropping, balcony-climbing night of chaos set amidst the stylish apartments of Paris.

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Tessa Peake-Jones became a household name with her role as Raquel in the iconic comedy Only Fools & Horses.

Her extensive stage work encompasses the National Theatre and RSC, recent credits include The Winslow Boy and Shirley Valentine.

Tony Gardner first made his name in comedy as part of the award-winning comedy duo Struck off and Die. Since then he has appeared on TV in roles ranging from My Parents are Aliens to Last Tango in Halifax and on stage in Alan Ayckbourn's classic Bedroom Farce.

And Wendi Peters is most widely known for her role as Cilla Battersby in Coronation Street and is currently appearing in the West End smash-hit musical Big.

Completing the cast are Vicki Davids as Babette, Richard Earl as Moricet, Daniel Burke as Gontran, Andy Secombe as Cassagne/Policeman, Simon Desborough as Inspector Bridois and Mikheal Deville as Policeman.

John Cleese said: "I am delighted to be working with Exeter Northcott Theatre and Dermot Mclaughlin to bring Bang Bang! to stages across the country with such a talented cast. Farce is my greatest love - Fawlty Towers consisted of 12 farces - and I think UK audiences will love this hilarious classic."

Asked if he could sum up the show in one word, he said: "No."

Beyond that, he said: "I've always loved farce. I also love that farce is constructed, when it's good, in an incredibly clever way - a really great farce, like the French farces of 1900. And I like the theatre because in farce, there's a lot going on and you can't pick it up with just one camera. If you try to shoot a wide shot for television it's too wide, but if you're sitting in an audience you can see the whole stage and you

can see him and her at the same time, and see them interact - without some editor choosing what you're going to see. Farce in the theatre is, I think, the thing that makes me happiest.

"I think the key elements of a farce are the structure of the plot and if I was to give advice to young people who are interested in farce, what I would say is get the story right - before you start writing the dialogue.

"When Connie (Booth) and I were writing Fawlty Towers, we didn't write any lines of dialogue for about two and a half weeks. We just sat trying to ?gure out what made the plot work. A lot of writers almost come up with a straight plot and then they have to write lots of jokes, because the situation is not very funny - but if you can write funny situations then writing the dialogue is easy because you just have to act out that situation."

Tickets from the box office on 01322 220000.

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