When I was asked to write a piece about this play I thought what can I say, you’re going to see it? So I decided to say what I thought about farce in general which you might find interesting. Many people, including some critics, often think farce is not to be considered on the same level as “serious” theatre. They are so wrong! It is in fact a very serious form of theatre. Firstly the difference between comedy and farce: Farce is much more dramatic than comedy. I remember talking to John Chapman co-author of Move Over Mrs Markham at great length, he thought that comedy concerned unreal people in real situations and farce was real people in unreal situations. And that is as good a definition as I know.
Actors in comedy are fully aware they are being humorous whereas in farce if you go on stage to “be funny” you might as well not bother at all, you will fail miserably. Better to stay at home! It is just as serious, far instance, if you’re caught in bed with another woman by your wife in farce as in drama. The moment is played in the same way. The author takes you on a merry go round of situations in farce which are funny to an audience, not to the actor – he is far too involved. Farce is more difficult to play than drama! In drama the actor will learn his lines discover his character in rehearsals and not bump into the furniture as Noel Coward used to say – jokingly. He does not have to concern himself with the audience reaction. In farce the actor has to have a third ear all the time on the audience reaction, i.e., their laughter. That laughter is an extra dimension, the counterpoint if you like of the evening’s entertainment. The actor in fact often has to stand “outside” his character for a moment to assess the situation. This of course does not happen in drama. That is why farce is so difficult technically for the actor. These notes may give you a new insight into farce and add to your pleasure.
I hope so. Enjoy your evening and happy theatre going.