See U Next Tuesday

Francis Veber, adapted by Ronald Harwood
Albery
(2003)

See U Next Tuesday was originally known as Le Dîner de Cons and was successful as a play and even more so as a film in Francis Veber's native France. He has a massive reputation there for writing and directing successful film comedies, several such as La Cage aux Folles remade in English.

This light farce might be almost the ultimate star vehicle. Ardal O'Hanlon, famed for Father Ted on Channel 4, is typecast as the innocent Clouseau-like "twat". He is a bumbling tax inspector who enjoys making models from matchsticks. Perhaps unsurprisingly, his wife has long since deserted him.

Within Liz Ascroft's bright, attractive modern living room, complete with imitation objets d'art and cod Picassos and Modiglianis, Nigel Havers plays a rich publisher, Pierre.

The comeuppance that he receives for inviting the obsessively enthusiastic taxman to a "party for twats" is very high. His fun leads to the loss of both his wife and lover. He also meets Lucien, the tax inspector from hell. The only compensation is a mysteriously disappearing bad back.

Havers plays a good support to O'Hanlon but most of the remaining cast members are hardly seen. The much advertised Patsy Kensit's vampish Marlene and Carol Royle as Pierre's wife do not get fifteen minutes of fame on stage between them.

The show is really stolen by Geoffrey Hutchings as the cuckolded tax inspector, Lucien, just the right mix of fierceness and pathos.

See U Next Tuesday is the kind of comedy that has great success touring, with weeks in rep all around the country. Whether the big names (especially that of the much-loved Ardal O'Hanlon) and smattering of funny lines can sustain a West End run may be more questionable.

Reviewer: Philip Fisher