Printable CopyBOX AND COX
National Wine Centre
Until 07 Mar 2018

Review by Sarah Westgarth

Written by John Maddison Morton in 1847, “Box and Cox” is a classic British farce, and this production by Maniacal Arts is a delightful time at the theatre.

The initial premise is simple: Mrs Bouncer is a landlady who has ingeniously rented out a room to two men at the same time in order to collect twice the rent. The catch is the men have no idea. Mr Cox works as a hatter by day, and comes home only in the evening. Mr Box works as a printer by night and comes home only during the day. It’s perfect in its simplicity; the humour all comes from the fast-paced banter between the characters, enhanced by precisely choreographed physical comedy, and these performers pull it all off with aplomb.

Declan Carter is pitch perfect as the fastidious and prim Mr Cox, and from the moment he speaks the opening lines of the show, he has the audience in his hand (though not necessarily on his side.) Jake McNamara plays the roguish and unkempt Mr Box with similar manic energy, and when the two of them finally share the stage, the play really kicks into high gear. There is not a dull moment throughout; every time the premise starts showing signs of being tired, the plot takes another turn and it moves at a cracking pace. McNamara and Carter’s mannerisms play off each other beautifully, and things are only improved when Emma Austin as Mrs Bouncer joins them. The three of them together is the stuff great farce is made of, and Austin is so hilarious and charming, you only wish there was more of her in the show.

The unfortunate aspect of the performance is not the fault of the production; the space they’re in has limited visuals for a lot of the audience, which means some of the action was difficult to see. It would be excellent to see this production staged with a full set and props, but it’s a credit to the cast and crew that it still works beautifully with such a basic area to work with.

“Box and Cox” is masterclass of good old fashioned comedy, and comes to an end far too soon.

Rating: 4 stars (out of 5)