Review: Duty Free

Duty Free. 'Gwen Taylor' 'and Carol Royle. Pic: Comp
Duty Free. 'Gwen Taylor' 'and Carol Royle. Pic: Comp
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IT’S almost 30 years since we last saw the Pearces and Cochranes in sunny Marbella. Back then, we watched the two holidaying couples – interrupted by David Pearce and Linda Cochrane’s unlikely affair – on the small screen.

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Now, three decades on, we find David and Linda up to their old, adulterous tricks again, albeit on the stage. Question is: Can Duty Free’s original scriptwriter, Eric Chappell, bring fresh impetus to a storyline that dried up after three series in 1986?

Having absconded to Marbella (again) to meet up with Linda for one last fling, David is horrified to discover his suspicious wife, Amy, has turned up at the same Spanish hotel resort unannounced. Soon, Linda’s hubby, Robert, shows up, too, and it’s not long before he’s threatening to kill David. If he can find him, that is.

Cue innuendo of the Carry On variety, put downs you’d expect from any couple married for more than 40 years, and of course, the typical wrong-end-of-the-stick comedy commonly associated with most classic British sitcoms. In short; predictable, eccentric middle-class waffle.

What makes this stage adaptation so harmlessly entertaining, then, lies in the chemistry – as well as the quality - of its seasoned, veteran cast. Original cast members Keith Barron (David), Gwen Taylor (Amy) and Neil Stacy (Robert) are in fine fettle. So relaxed are they, even when the occasional line is fluffed, it merely adds to the humour. Carol Royal, meanwhile, gives the impression she’s being playing Linda all her life.

It’s also worth noting the elaborate and impressive stage-set, which, it must be said, looks more expensive than the original TV studio. Squint your eyes and you might – just might - think you’re lying on a Spanish beach yourself.

So, while this follow-up won’t win awards or set tongues wagging, it remains a cute and thoroughly enjoyable ‘affair’ you won’t regret spending a couple of hours in the sun for.

Run ends Saturday