It would be unfair to regard Out of the Frying Pan, which opened last night at the Belgrade Theatre, Coventry, as much more than a seasonal romp. The play was specially commissioned by the theatre for its own company from C. E. Webber.
He has taken as his basis the Aladdin legend with its genie of the lamp, brought it up to date in the best Espresso manner and thrown in a Middle Eastern people's republic and a modernised Merlin.
It is all great fun and quite impossible to take seriously, though you may, if you wish, take a moral or two away with you. On the other hand, there is no compulsion to do anything except enjoy the story as much as the company obviously does.
Once Mr. Webber has got his characters well on the way out of the Frying Pan Coffee Bar (it must be no coincidence that at the end we have as fine a 4,000 volt fire as even Merlin could conjure from the vasty deep) he flouts a number of playwriting conventions.
Who would expect the young Etonian son of a Middle Eastern Prime Minister to sing from his prison cell to his schoolgirl love the song incorporating the immortal line, "Daphne, stop munching and spare me a thought"? It is admirably delivered by Michael Crawford, as indeed is most of the singing to tuneful if modest music by John Hunter Blair.
Who would expect the resourceful Professor Merlin Jones (Frank Finlay making a welcome and superbly demoniac reappearance after his trans-Atlantic visit) to have adapted magic to science with such remarkable results and quite baffling command of scientific jargon.
Manifestly at this happy time and in such happy company one must not be hyper-critical: Bryan Bailey's direction whisks us easily with appropriate flashes of lightning from England to Baglak and around that city on Brian Currah's ingeniously adaptable set.
Clinton Greyn's is a puzzled genie and Patsy Byrne, Rhoda Lewis, Richard Martin (a splendid Teddy Boy) and Alan Howard give us spirited "teenagers," with Barbara Atkinson delightful as a coffee-bar owner who would surely be more at home in an Olde Worlde Tea Shoppe.
Birmingham Post, 24.12.58.
K. G. (Staff Reporter).
Daphne / Patsy Byrne: Christine / Rhoda Lewis: Millie / Barbara Atkinson: Gregory / Richard Martin: Dave / Alan Howard: Genie / Clinton Greyn: Prime Minister / Charles Kay: Yasmeen, his daughter / Margo Jenkins: Professor Jones / Frank Finlay: General Hashmak / Patrick O'Connell: Mrs Peck, Gregory's mother / Cherry Morris: Policeman / Malcolm Rogers: Nuri, Prime Minister's son / Michael Crawford: Soldiers, Guards / Kenton Moore, Stanley Page, Malcolm Rogers.
I'm Blue Because / Gregory
Baby Since You Left Me / Gregory
We've Got A Genuine Genie / Christine, Daphne, Millie, Dave, Genie
Hot Potato Rock / Gregory, Genie, Dave, Christine, Daphne, Millie
Out Of The Frying Pan / Gregory, Genie, Christine, Dave
It Was You / Gregory, Yasmeen
Reprise: We've Got A Genuine Genie / Gregory, Nuri, Christine, Daphne, Dave, Millie, Genie, Mrs Peck
In Days Of Old / Professor Jones
Lament / Nuri
Everyone's Fond Of Someone / Daphne, Mrs Peck, Yasmeen, Christine, Millie
Goodbye Baglak / The Company
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