Two into One

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A: Ray Cooney Pf: 1981, Leicester Pb: 1985 G: Farce in 2 acts S: London hotel, 1980s C: 5m, 5f, extrasRichard Willey MP, a handsome man in his forties, ‘number two at the Home Office’, has come up to London from his country home with his wife Pamela to stay at the Westminster Hotel in order to attend a parliamentary debate about pornography. Richard gets his private secretary George Pigden to book him another suite so that he can spend the afternoon with Jennifer Bristow, one of Margaret Thatcher's secretaries. Through a series of accidents and misunderstandings, Richard is booked into the suite next to his own, and Pamela thinks that George is trying to seduce her, while all attempts by George to sort out the mess complicate matters further. George pretends to be homosexual to conceal the compromising situation Richard finds him in. Eventually, Richard and Pamela encounter each other half-naked and pretend to be delighted. Richard sends Jennifer and George away, but Jennifer's husband Edward unexpectedly turns up at the hotel. Jennifer gets wedged in a trolley while trying to hide, and everyone assumes that Edward is George's suicidal boyfriend. At last Pamela guesses the truth about Richard's intended affair, but cannot accuse him without divulging her own secret.

A: Ray Cooney Pf: 1981, Leicester Pb: 1985 G: Farce in 2 acts S: London hotel, 1980s C: 5m, 5f, extras

Cooney, the master craftsman of English farce, uses multiple sets and ingenious plotting to create a very funny piece, in which, typically for anodyne West End entertainment, no one actually gets anywhere near committing a sexual act, and comments about politics, pornography, and sexual orientation are designed to provoke easy laughter rather than insight.

Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).

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