BARBARA from The Good Life, aka Felicity Kendal, eventually finds a better life in the city of love in Chin-Chin which plays at The Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham this week.
The effervescent Kendal, who defies her 67 years breezes onto the stage and is a familiar face to us all along with her energetic co-star Simon Callow one of Britain’s best actors who has appeared in Four Weddings and a Funeral and as Mozart in Amadeus.
The curtain lifts to a café scene reminiscent of Allo Allo with accordion music setting the scene for 1950s Paris and our couple meet for the first time following the revelation his wife has run off with her husband.
“I don’t want to discuss my marriage,” lies Kendall who plays the prim and proper Pamela Pusey-Picq to Callow who mesmerises us all with his Italian accent as he portrays Cesareo Grimaldi a man of emotions rather than actions.
Dressed in black and white suit complete with pillbox hat and matching heels, an immaculate Madam Pusey-Picq pleads with the broken Grimaldi: “what are we going to do?”
The answer seems to revolve around a few drinks with Kendal’s character moving swiftly from her cup of tea to the odd glass(or two) of wine as this unlikely pair strike up a friendship which helps them move on from the past and set the world to rights in this bitter sweet comedy.
Kendal is just superb as her character develops from the reserved English woman who “values logic over love” in the opening scene to the carefree spirit who walks away into the sunset in flat shoes wearing an old coat with unkempt hair.
Her comic timing is still second to none and she almost has the same chemistry on stage with Callow that she had with the late Richard Briers in the Good Life.
Callow takes on the role with his usual gusto which saw him rather red-faced at times!
Although most of his time was spent holding a bottle of vino we were treated to a few dance steps around the bedroom and an energetic burst of boxing as he tried to forget his “beautiful Margarite”.
He also becomes progressively bedraggled as he declares: ““Without wine life would be unbearable” and this is where they find their solace and break away from life’s shackles.
A memorable performance from two of our best-loved actors. Chin-Chin is at the Everyman until Saturday.