“No Sex Please, We’re British” director Ann Antkiw states in the play’s program that if her crew succeeds in making the audience “smile, chuckle or guffaw,” then all their hard work is worth the effort.
With chuckles ringing throughout San José’s Laurence Olivier Theater Feb. 26, it was plain to see that, by this standard, the Little Theatre Group’s opening-night performance of this 1970s British farce was a hilarious success.
Twice staged by the Little Theatre Group in Costa Rica, the first time 16 years ago, Anthony Marriott and Alistair Foot’s “No Sex Please, We’re British” ran in London’s West End from 1971 to 1987 and holds the record for the longest-running comedy in the British theater district’s history.
Antkiw, a longtime Little Theatre Group member, said she accepted the challenge of directing this farce with some hesitation. “This is one of the hardest forms of theater. It’s all in the timing and it moves so fast; every door has to open and close on cue,” she said.
The play’s plentiful cast of characters is marvelously led by Costa Rican Ricardo Jiménez in the role of Peter Hunter, a prim and proper newlywed bank employee who starts to unravel as he, his wife and friend become caught in a tangled web of pornographic proportions.
Jiménez, who said he loves this type of comedy because it is very active, acknowledged that the sweat streaming down his body was real, a product of his character’s frenzy and darting around the stage.
With a background in TV, radio and film, Stacey Auch, from the U.S. state of Arizona, makes an entrance into the Costa Rican expat theater scene in her role as Hunter’s wife, Frances. Things start to go downhill for Frances with the arrival of her picky and overbearing mother-in-law, Eleanor Hunter (played by Caroline Kennedy), who is even immune to sleeping pills, slipped carefully into her tea in an attempt to keep her unaware of the piles of pornographic material lying around the Hunters’ London flat and which continues to arrive in enormous parcels from a mysterious address.
Arriving from this same address is one of the play’s highlights: prostitutes Susan and Barbara, who come to service some unsuspecting victims and take the play to further comedic heights. Lead prostitute Susan is played by Tica-Brit Andrea Lorena Nodroum, whose stage presence and performance were truly outstanding, especially considering it was her acting debut.
The play is in two acts split by a 15-minute intermission. Wine, beer and snacks are available, and it’s nice to top off the evening with a nightcap at the Shakespeare Bar below the theater.
“No Sex Please, We’re British” runs through March 21, with performances at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and at 2:30 p.m. Sundays. Reservations may be made online at www.littletheatregroup.org or by calling 8858-1446. Tickets cost ¢4,500 (about $8.20).
The March 7 performance of the show is a Women’s Club of Costa Rica 70th anniversary fundraiser to collect donations for the club’s educational initiatives. Reservations for this show may be made at 2268-2182 or 2249-2345, with a suggested donation of ¢6,000 ($11).