Review: The Sex Lives of Puppets, Southwark Playhouse - cheeky and laugh out loud funny
Review: Cockfosters, The Turbine Theatre - fun and peculiar

Review: The Unfriend, Wyndham's Theatre - Frances Barber elevates every scene she is in

Lee Mack  Frances Barber and Sarah Alexander in The Unfriend - photo by Manuel Harlan
Lee Mack, Frances Barber and Sarah Alexander in The Unfriend. Photo by Manuel Harlan

If you like sitcom-style comedy, then Steven Moffat's  The Unfriend at the Wyndham's Theatre could be the show for you. It centres on an unwelcome house guest whom the hosts are too polite (or British) to ask to leave despite discovering said guest's suspected murderous past.

Brits Peter (Lee Mack) and Debbie (Sarah Alexander) meet American Elsa (Frances Barber) on a cruise. Elsa is not afraid to share her opinions and vocalise her observations. And she makes for amusing and harmless company while on holiday.

However, when a polite rather than serious post-holiday invite is taken up, suspicion grows about who Peter and Debbie will have staying under their roof.

Attempts to curtail Elsa's stay are hampered by farcical and awkward ineptitude and the unexpected impact of Elsa on their two teenage kids, Alex (Jem Matthews) and Rosie (Maddie Holliday).

Peter and Debbie seem unable to deal with anything head-on, as the situation with Elsa, recurring visits by a boring neighbour, and attempts to parent their children demonstrate. It is in stark contrast with the direct and persuasive Elsa.

Frances Barber is obviously enjoying herself as the loud and brash Elsa. She elevates every scene that she is in and has some of the funniest lines.

Matthews and Holliday deliver humorous performances as the teenagers who transition from stereotypical horrors to model offspring.

Mack and Alexander have a more difficult job as Peter and Debbie are a little formulaic. There are few surprises, and the comic set-ups lead to predictable outcomes.

Some of the humour is over-egged. For example, there is a particularly laborious (and unpleasant) toilet scene.

If you aren't into farcical, sitcom-style humour, then it may fall flat.

I wasn't rolling in aisles with laughter, but there were a good handful of laughs and chuckles. I'm giving The Unfriend ⭐️⭐️⭐️.

The Unfriend, Wyndham's Theatre

Written Stephen Moffat

Directed by Mark Gatiss

Starring Lee Mack, Frances Barber and Sarah Alexander

Running time 1 hour 55 minutes, including an interval

Booking until 9 March, for more information and to buy tickets visit The Unfriend official website.

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