Anyone for Breakfast?

Derek Benfield
Stage Further Productions (Plays) Ltd
Gala Theatre, Durham, and touring
(2004)

Poster

The problem faced by mid-scale receiving houses like the Gala is that they are very much at the mercy of the product available. Some weeks ago the Gala treated us to English Touring Theatre's wonderful Twelfth Night, one of the best productions of the play I have ever seen: this week they give us Derek Benfield's farce Anyone for Breakfast?.

Anyone for Breakfast? has all the classic ingredients of the genre: a set with numerous doors through which the protagonists pass to and fro, usually just missing each other and so complicating the plot, or else hiding from each other; marital infidelity (more desired than achieved); women in their underwear and men without their trousers; even the obligatory funny foreigner who makes mistakes in English (here German air hostess Helga tells us her car's "sparkle plugs" are not working) - and a setting that never existed anywhere outside of stage farces. Apart from references to aerobics, it could have been written any time in the last fifty years.

Benfield follows the formula so exactly that that the whole thing is totally predictable. There were some laughs - there was one guy in the audience who roared on a number of occasions - but never a concerted laugh from the whole audience. One feels tempted to fight cliché with cliché and say that occasionally a little titter ran round the audience - the whole audience, that is, not just the few who clearly loved it. And certainly not those who left at the interval.

The performances, from a cast made up primarily of soap stars, were as competent as the cardboard cut-out characterisation would allow, but I have to say that, with fare like this, the Gala is not going to dig itself out of its financial hole - one just hopes this show is on a box office split and not a guarantee.

Reviewer: Peter Lathan