JOHN Cleese will make his stage writing debut with a hilarious new adaptation of classic comedy Bang Bang! – a delicious blend of French Farce and Fawlty Towers.
When Leontine, a respectable society lady, discovers that she’s been hoodwinked by her husband, Duchotel, who’s always pretending to go hunting but really chasing after other ‘prey’, she vows to take revenge on the philanderer.
But while Duchotel’s away, his lifelong friend comes calling – and he’s on the hunt too.
Will Leontine get caught in his sights, or instead set a trap of her own?
Secrets unravel as the devilish Duchotel finds himself snared in a door-slamming, trouser-dropping, balcony-climbing night of chaos set amidst the stylish apartments of Paris.
The hilarious comedy will come to the Theatre Royal Windsor from March 9 to 14.
John Cleese chats about the new show.
Let’s talk farce...
I’ve always loved farce. I also love that farce is constructed, when its good, in an incredibly clever way - a really great farce, like the French farces of 1900. And I like the theatre because in farce, there’s a lot going on and you can’t pick it up with just one camera.
If you try to shoot a wide shot for television its too wide, but if you’re sitting in an audience you can see the whole stage and you can see him and her at the same time, and see them interact - without some editor choosing what you’re going to see.
What makes a good farce?
I think the key elements of a farce are the structure of the plot and if I was to give advice to young people who are interested in farce, what I would say is get the story right - before you start writing the dialogue.
When Connie and I were writing Fawlty Towers, we didn’t write any lines of dialogue for about two and a half weeks. We just sat trying to figure out what made the plot work.
A lot of writers almost come up with a straight plot and then they have to write lots of jokes, because the situation is not very funny - but if you can write funny situations then writing the dialogue is easy because you just have to act out that situation.
Discuss your creative process…
Well I lecture on creativity and I’m absolutely convinced that everything that’s really original comes from the unconscious - you don’t have control. This means that you have to understand how the creative process works, which is that you have to get in a state of mind where you can keep focus on what you’re doing - without it being a furrow-brow, studying-late-into-the-night intensity.
And why the people who commission scripts often get it wrong so much, is that they don’t give writers enough time. So they are immediately saying ‘I want something Wednesday week’ and the reality is if you want something Wednesday week I don’t have time to think of anything original.
Why should people come and see Bang Bang?
Well you know what they say about buying property don’t you, there’s three things… location, location, location.
And the only reason, the only reason, anyone should come to Bang Bang! is to laugh, to laugh and to laugh.
Bang Bang! tickets are on sale now - go to theatreroyalwindsor.co.uk or call 01753 853888.