Crowd gets behind farce - by hook or by crook!

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THEY love their farces in Derbyshire, the dafter the better and a dash of naughtiness really is the icing on the cake.

Howls of laughter from the large audience proved Bolsover Drama Group had struck comedy gold at last night’s opening show.

Chris Peck, IstvanKoszegi and and Derrick Hulett, left to right, in Off The Hook.

Chris Peck, IstvanKoszegi and and Derrick Hulett, left to right, in Off The Hook.

Cause of the merriment was Off The Hook, by Derek Benfield, a production populated with eccentric characters embroiled in ludicrous situations.

Timing was everything as players rushed in and out of various doors, dashed around stage, tied themselves up in knots and threw themselves into a sketch of toss the suitcase.

The plot was as far-fetched as they come….criminals spring the wrong man from prison to unearth a hoard of stolen loot in a hotel, where jobsworthy staff and frisky inhabitants add to their woes.

Derrick Hulett, Chris Peck and Istavan Koszegi, cast as the comedy crooks, did a great job of projecting marathon speeches, various personalities and different approaches to generating laughs.

But they weren’t the funniest on stage. That honour went to Louise Sutton, playing the bolshie cleaner Edna, and group newcomer Ruth Bonner, cast as the foghorn-voiced hotel guest Mrs Fletcher-Brewer, who played their parts brilliantly.

Cheeky giggles were triggered by Judith Doram’s bottom-pinching antics, in her role as hotel proprietor’s wife. And Ken Radmore as her opposite number was every inch the retired Major, with a nod in the direction of Basil Fawlty.

Group chairman Mick Whitehouse delighted with his cameo role as doddery pensioner, as did mum and daughter Lisa and Lianne Brunt who played fellow hotel guests.

The first night had its teething troubles, most obvious being a couple of instances of forgotten lines.

But overall, Off The Hook had the audience hooked on its heady cocktail of frothy comedy and sparkling characterisation.

Directed by Janet Koszegi and produced by Maureen Blood, the farce continues at Bolsover’s Assembly Rooms tonight (Friday, May 18) and tomorrow (Saturday, May 19).