THEATRE REVIEW: The Final Test

COMIC farce The Final Test is being performed at Rotherham Civic Theatre until tomorrow (Saturday) night.

Rotherham Rep

Rotherham Civic Theatre

Until Saturday, June 23

INTERRUPTING a husband’s favourite sporting fixture just isn’t cricket. But then, neither is neglecting a wife.

Self-centred Peter (David Mitchell) wants no more than to listen to the test match in peace, in his garden.

But the trouble is, it’s no longer his garden. Long-suffering Ruth (Sheena Easton) has sold the house from under him, to leave for another man.

Is she serious? Or is it a last, desperate gamble to see whether the selfish bore will change his ways?

With the new occupants eager to see Peter leave, will they help mend his broken marriage? And at what cost to their young union?

The script might find fans with an older audience, more entrenched and comfortable in the relationships. Indeed, most gags got laughs on Tuesday.

Perhaps some viewers were left mulling over their own marriages, remembering their wedding vows and committing to be better spouses.

But it just didn’t appeal to this recently-married thirty-something.

The plot has comedy potential, sure, but it spools out too much like a B-grade, 1980s sitcom.

Ruth, who begins with fire in her belly and very reasonable demands, yields the moral high ground to a man who learns little.

And young bride Susan (Yvette Sayles) is a cartoonish bad guy, henpecking husband Ray (Josh Roberts) just for showing a little compassion.

A tango-dancing policeman (Paul Daniels) makes an odd appearance, taking the script on a brief, wacky detour.

(I must add, here, that Paul’s scene was one of only a few I laughed out loud at.)

But the bulk of the play is bickering, concluding in a somewhat dissatisfying way.

There were a few first-night wrinkles, which will no doubt be ironed out by the very capable Rotherham Rep.

And credit must go to all five actors for their emotionally-charged performances, particularly Yvette Sayles and debut-making Josh Roberts.

But it wasn’t the Rep’s best production — not up to the standard of their excellent One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest or much funnier Neveille’s Island.

That said, it’s still a pleasant diversion, which is enthusiastically acted.

Visit www.rotherhamtheatres.co.uk for more information and to buy tickets.