First published in Reviews

Rumours by Neil Simon was the latest production from the Malvern Theatre Players. As I have come to expect from their previous productions it was a professionally produced play with an impressive cast.

The play follows the confusion and chaos that ensue when guests arrive at an anniversary dinner party to find the staff are missing, the hostess has disappeared and the host has shot himself. This proves to be a recipe for lies and cover-ups as the guests try desperately to save their hosts from embarrassment and scandal.

The guests - lawyers and accountants and their wives, an eccentric psychologist and a TV cook - descend into hysteria as events go from bad to worse. Their woes are compounded by the fact that one guest has crashed his shiny new car, one guest has a bad back and another is so desperate for a smoke that she lights up a tampon. And that's before the police arrive.

It is all very silly. There are some funny lines but it wasn't for me. I am not a huge fan of farces, particularly the middle class, suburban farces that always seem stuck in the 1970s.and involve drinks parties. Actually, Rumours only dates back to the eighties. It was originally set in America but this version not only corrects the American spelling but relocates it to England. Whether in the American setting it makes more sense I don't know but the play never really makes clear just why everyone is so convinced they need to prevent a scandal. I don't get why the writer Neil Simon has the early arrivals so keen to hide what has happened from the guests who arrive later. They are all supposedly friends. The lies and hysteria seem unnecessary.

It is fast moving and got plenty of laughs from the audience, including my companion, and the problem is the play not this particular production.

By Sue Vickers

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