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2014

• March 8th: TWO INTO ONE opens at the Menier Chocolate Factory until April 26th (see below)

• March 17th: MOVE OVER MRS MARKHAM opened at the Vaudeville Theatre in 1971

• March 29th: RUN FOR YOUR WIFE opened at the Shaftesbury Theatre in 1983

• May 30th: Ray's birthday

• August 31st: Linda's birthday

• September 7th: Michael’s Birthday

• December 8th: Ray & Linda's 52nd Wedding Anniversary

 

Ray Cooney OBE

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Menier Chocolate Factory

presents

TWO INTO ONE

starring
(in order of appearance)

MICHAEL PRAED
JOSEFINA GABRIELLE
KATHRYN ROONEY
JEFFREY HOLLAND
RAY COONEY
JEAN FERGUSSON
NICK WILTON
KELLY ADAMS
TOM GOLDING

from 8th March 2014 to 26th April 2014

Click here for more information

Two Into OneJean Fergusson - Ray Cooney - Josefina Gabrielle - Michael Praed

Charles Spencer – Daily Telegraph

There are some people who can’t stick farce at any price. They think it’s common, to use that dread word of my childhood, and very possibly sexist and homophobic too. Such sourpusses are, in my opinion, more to be pitied than censured.
Some of the most enjoyable nights of my life have been spent at farces, and Ray Cooney has served the cause of cheering us all up, man and boy, for more years than he possibly cares to remember.
Two Into One strikes me as his greatest work, second only to Michael Frayn’s masterpiece Noises Off in the pantheon of great farcical comedy. I know Feydeau and Travers have their dedicated admirers, but Cooney has long struck me as being funnier than either of them.
This production finds Cooney, now 81, directing his own show, and also acting in it, as a spectacularly incompetent waiter who does Kung Fu moves and always has his hand extended for a tip.
Donald Sinden and the late lamented Michael Williams starred in the play when it opened back in 1984, and though the present cast didn’t quite eclipse my golden memories of that joyous production, they nevertheless offer terrific value.
The action is set in a swish Westminster hotel, slickly and ingeniously designed by Julie Godfrey, where a Home Office minister in Mrs Thatcher’s Government is planning a tryst with one of the PM’s secretaries. He asks his long suffering PPS, George, to book a room under an assumed name since he is already staying at the hotel with his wife. The minister’s wife, however, finds herself bizarrely attracted to this plump official, who usually leads a blameless life at home with his old mum – and the web of intrigue, lies and assumed identities becomes ever more complex and demented.
Indeed the variations Cooney works on the theme of people desperately trying to explain why they are in the wrong bedroom with the wrong person at the wrong time are positively Lisztian in their virtuosity.
Nick Wilton is superb as the PPS, his well-padded and often nearly naked body drenched with sweat as he constantly tries to lie his way out of disaster, even to the point of pretending he is having an affair with a tea-boy in the Foreign Office.
Michael Praed is superbly persuasive as the kind of suave, supercilious philandering Tory Minister that were such a feature of Mrs Thatcher’s Government, with a particular whiff of Cecil Parkinson about him. (I’m afraid Cooney has not been able to resist the temptation of calling the character Richard Willey.)
Josefina Gabrielle is delightfully sexy as the wife who has plans of her own, and Jeffrey Holland is a hoot as the sternly disapproving hotel manager. In a sublime climactic moment that sums up everything I love about farce, he resoundingly declares: “There’s far too much sex in this hotel and I’m not having any of it”.
If that line leaves you cold, then I would strongly advise you to give this show a miss. If it tickles your fancy, I can assure you that you will have a ball.

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THE STAGE.
March 27th, 2014
Mark Shenton

Ray Cooney pays homage to Feydeau’s A Little Hotel On The Side, with his deliriously funny 1981 farce likewise revolving around the thwarted efforts to conduct an extramarital affair in a hotel.
But while many farces build by accumulating detail until events  start spiraling out of control, Cooney dares to fire up the engine of this farce from the very beginning, so that when Richard Willey, a junior government minister for Margaret Thatcher, declares early on: “Nothing can go wrong”, you immediately know that absolutely everything will go wrong with his plans.
He intends to skip off a committee meeting to have an assignation in a hotel room with an assistant from the prime minister’s office. Willey’s parliamentary private secretary, George Pigden, desperately tries to cover for him, but is drawn into as adulterous liaison of his own with Willey’s wife and is forced to pretend that he’s actually having a gay relationship with a teaboy from the Foreign Office.
Yes, it’s all preposterous, but Cooney maintains an inexorable logic as chaos ensues, and directs it himself with such speed and dexterity that you can’t see the holes in it. In the same week that the likewise octogenarian Angela Lansbury returned to the West End,  Cooney outs in an appearance himself as the hotel waiter and makes a bold example of the physical abilities of a man who at 81 is as spry and physically agile as anyone on stage.
A terrific ensemble cast are all the funnier for treating it with deadly seriousness and not letting their guard slip at all to indulge the waves of laughter engulfing them from the audience.
The result could be this year’s One Man, Two Guvnors.

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Paul TaylorThe Independent

It's been quite a week for octogenarian legends in Theatreland.  We've had Angela Lansbury returning to the London stage after a forty year gap with her delicious Madame Arcati in Blithe Spirit. And now look at what Ray Cooney is up to at the Menier Chocolate Factory.
The 81 year old master farceur has not only directed this peppy, smartly-cast revival of his Thatcher-era hit, Two into One, but he's also performing in it as a doddery, profoundly incompetent waiter who is nonetheless a dab hand at collecting hush money and inclined to go into Kung Fu action if any slur is cast on his age. 
These days, it's “flipping” and the expenses scandal that fuel farces about politicians as in the recent  Duck House where the MP and his spouse had to make a frantic attempt to pass off their London flat as a main home.  In Cooney's 1984 romp, by contrast, we're to understand that out-of-town big-wigs stay in the kind of swish Westminster hotel where Home Office minister, Richard Willey (no, you read that right) has brought his wife for a break. 
But while she is out at a matinee of Evita, the philandering smoothie-chops (spot-on Michael Praed) is planning to have two hours of adulterous bliss with one of the PM's young secretaries.  The task of booking another room, under an assumed name, falls to George Pigden, his sorely tried PPS who bungles the whole thing badly with the result that the love-nest is next door to the marital suite.  The complications start to go seriously crackers when, on returning early, the sexually frustrated Mrs Willey (glorious Josefina Gabrielle) develops the hots for the PPS, a podgy little celibate soul who lives with his mother.  
The play is supposedly set just before a debate about a bill that would outlaw pornography.  But Cooney makes surprisingly little comic capital from the potential exposure of political hypocrisy.  There's an anti-vice campaigner “Chilly Lily” Chatterton (a redoubtable Northern battle-axe in Jean Ferguson's amusing performance) who is on the prowl but the plotting never allows her to pose a sufficient threat to the minister's career and the stakes, at least in this regard, aren't raised. 
Instead, you have the pleasure of watching deliriously daft hanky-panky, cleverly counter-pointed in adjoining mirror-image suites (the witty sliding design is by Julie Godfrey) and executed with engaging vim and dexterity by a crack team.  Pallid man-boobs flecked with soaps suds from the bubble bath he has taken with his boss's randy wife, Nick Wilton is a joy as the long-suffering PPS, an improbable object of passion who is forced into every convolution of desperate cover-up on Willey's behalf  – to the extent of feigning an affair with a Foreign Office tea boy. 
The farcical proceedings never become merely ingenious, though, because they are always warmed by radiantly silly high-spirits and the dialogue is littered with endearingly groan-worthy gags and verbal cock-ups typified by the hotel manager's censorious declaration: “There's far too much sex in this hotel and I'm not having any of it”.

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Michael Billington – The Guardian

Two Into One review – 'An orgy of door-slamming' Ray Cooney's production achieves the correct delirious momentum and gets good performances from everyone, including the playwright.

When I first saw Ray Cooney's play in 1984, I dubbed it a "classic farce". Encountering it again in the author's own revival, I see no need to revise my opinion. If you're a devotee of farce – and I realise not everyone is – Cooney's play can hold its own with the very best of the French master, Feydeau. As in all vintage farce, a plausible premise escalates into surreal improbability. A Tory junior minister plans a spot of extramarital afternoon nookie in a Westminster hotel where he is staying with his wife. He gets his put-upon private secretary to book a room under a false name, only to find his wife unexpectedly returning from a matinee of Evita. Add in a suspicious hotel manager and a vice-hunting lady Labour MP who prowls the corridors like a female bloodhound and you have a recipe for panic, confusion, multiple disguises and a positive orgy of door-banging that might be known as synchronised slamming.
Sex and violence are often linked as symbols of moral decay: in farce, they come together in a world of preposterous fantasy. Lust propels the action in Cooney's mad charade leading the apoplectic manager to declare, in one of farce's immortal lines: "There's far too much sex in this hotel and I'm not having any of it." But there is also something sadomasochistic about the relationship of the minister and his aide. Violence is constantly being done both to puffed-up pretence and the human body: only in farce would it be permitted to laugh at the sight of a ski-accident victim thrice having his crutches kicked from under him or his wife being squashed into the lower deck of a drinks-trolley.
Farce is not a genre for the the faint-hearted. Cooney's production achieves the correct delirious momentum and gets good performances all round. Nick Wilton exudes mounting desperation as the ministerial aide, Michael Praed as his sleek, silver-streaked boss resembles a discomforted badger and Josefina Gabrielle as his wife registers suitable shock at finding herself in bed with her own husband. In a week when the 88-year-old Angela Lansbury has dominated the headlines, it is good to find youth being given its head again in the shape of the 81-year-old Mr Cooney who plays the waiter with a time-defying sprightliness that matches his own text.

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Dominic Maxwell – The Times

Angela Lansbury is not the only octogenarian making a welcome return to the London stage this week. While Lansbury, 88, is acting in Noël Coward’s Blithe Spirit, Ray Cooney, 81, is back to reclaim his position as Britain’s master farceur.
It’s nine years since this former West End mainstay last had a new play on there and just over a year since he released a pilloried film version of his biggest stage success, Run For Your Wife. And though his revival of his 1984 political sex comedy doesn’t quite scale farce’s highest peaks of precision-timed panic — I often found myself smiling at the deliciously dense storytelling rather than laughing out loud at it — it is always good fun. If you can’t take some pleasure from a crack cast lying, disrobing and slamming in and out of doors — Julie Godfrey’s adjoining-hotel-suites design offers six for them to choose between — then farce is simply not your bag.
And oh what a tangled web Cooney weaves for his frustrated fornicators. At the Westminster Hotel an ageing Tory junior minister called Richard Willey (nobody said this was Chekhov) is trying to arrange an assignation with Jennifer, a secretary to Mrs Thatcher. Meanwhile Mrs Willey is off at a matinee of Evita. “Nothing can go wrong,” brags Michael Praed’s deluded Willey to Nick Wilton’s George, his perspiring personal private secretary. Before you know it Josefina Gabrielle’s frisky Mrs Willey is trying to romp with George, while in the next room we see Kelly Adams’s Jennifer meeting Willey. Oh, and a senior Labour politician is on the same floor and could ruin them all, though Cooney rather loses sight of that bigger picture as he gets stuck into all the entrances and exits.
Gabrielle is exceptional, making the vamping Mrs Willey flighty yet real. Wilton exudes boobyish energy as George hides behind newspapers, poses as a doctor and motors the plot. Jeffrey Holland is a stony-faced authority figure as the hotel manager — “There is far too much sex in this hotel and I’m having none of it” — and Cooney himself is lively as a daft elderly waiter, bouncing around to ska music in the scene changes. Praed just needs to let go of the handrails in his performance as Willey; for a man who has accidentally swallowed six Benzedrine he remains on a disappointingly even keel.
Call me greedy but I wanted just that extra ounce of danger on stage to turn this from an entertaining exercise into something really thrilling. Still, it’s never less than a pleasure to watch Cooney bring his daft but disciplined approach to comedy back to the stage where it belongs.

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WIMBLEDON & SOUTH LONDON PRESS.
March 28th, 2014
Kate Gould

Anyone who loves farce will surely enjoy a new revival of Two Into One now on at the Menier Chocolate Factory.
Written in 1984 by Ray Cooney, who both stars in and directs this particular production, it is set at the swanky Westminster Hotel – the set ingeniously designed by Julie Godfrey – during one particular afternoon.
Home Office minister, Richard Willey – yes really – is staying at the hotel with his wife Pamela but is planning an afternoon of secret extramarital naughtiness with one of the PM’s secretaries.
To help his plan come to fruition, he asks his long suffering PPS, George Pigden, to book a room for him at the same hotel but, under a different name. Despite George’s protestations, Richard assures him the plan is watertight, suggesting somewhat naively: “What could possibly go wrong”!.
And so it transpires that, instead of going out to watch a matinee that afternoon, leaving the way clear for his assignation, Richard’s wife Pamela comes back to the hotel to find George trying to book the room. For some reason she suddenly finds herself attracted to him, thinking that he’s a bit more exciting than he appears by jumping to the conclusion he is having an affair of his own. As the tangle of lies becomes ever more complicated and preposterous, with George desperately trying to cover for his boss, he is eventually forced to pretend he is having a gay relationship with a tea boy called Ted from the Home Office.
The results are hilarious with plenty of door slamming, hiding in bathrooms and in tea trolleys, and raised eyebrows from the hotel manager.
Ray Cooney’s writing and direction is superb and his rendition of kung fu moves  is priceless. Michael Praed is deliciously suave as the cheating minister and Josefina Gabrielle is his sexy wife.
But it is Nick Wilton as the put-upon George who is the star of the show. Constantly sweating with desperation and nerves his eyes bulging with the horror of this complicated situation. However, the best line is reserved for Jeffrey Holland as the hotel manager, who says: “There’s far too much sex in this hotel and I’m not having any of it”.
Brilliant fun that will have your ribs aching for days after.

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"Not only am I delighted that we're reviving my comedy TWO INTO ONE at the Menier Chocolate Factory (great little Theatre, just on the south side of London Bridge with a delightful restaurant) but I'm so pleased that, for one week during the 8-week run of the play, my wife, Linda and her chum, Teresa Witz, will be having an exhibition of their paintings at the adjoining Menier Art Gallery. The exhibition (also entitled TWO INTO ONE!) runs from Tuesday April 1st until Saturday April 5th. I think it could be the very first time that a playwright has had his play performed at the same venue and at the same moment his wife is exhibiting her artwork - I've waited 50 years to put something over Shakespeare and Alan Ayckbourn! Its fun!"

Ray Cooney

EXTENDED UNTIL APRIL 11th

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For more information, visit
www.twiceuponatime.co.uk


With, amongst others, OUT OF ORDER in Moscow, the U.S.A., Canada, Scandinavia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, and Germany, TWO INTO ONE in the Czech Republic, Canada, Spain, Hungary and Scandinavia, IT RUNS IN THE FAMILY in Israel, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Australia, FUNNY MONEY! in Belgium, Lithuania, Scandinavia, the Far East, Japan, Greece, the Netherlands and Mexico, CAUGHT IN THE NET in the U.S.A., Canada, Mexico, South Africa, Greece, Germany, Turkey, Poland, The Netherlands, Scandinavia, Spain, Hungary, Southern Ireland and Paris, TOM, DICK & HARRY in the USA, Hungary and Chile and RUN FOR YOUR WIFE! which is still playing worldwide, it's proving to be yet another hectic Cooney International year.

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from 'VARIETY' November 4, 2001

PLEASE NOTE!

NOTHING in our licences [for the plays written by Ray Cooney or Michael Cooney] gives the right to Film, Video or Audio record a performance. A separate agreement can be applied for in writing, for Archive records only (NOT for public exhibition) and such applications will not be reasonably refused. However, placing any excerpts on YouTube, Facebook etc. is likely to be in contravention of the copyright laws and possibly a criminal offence.

Last updated 4th April 2014

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