An ordinary woman sits on a park bench reading a newspaper. Along comes a spy who sits down beside her, claiming she has found the perfect ‘unintelligent specimen’ with whom to leave a briefcase containing top secret materials. The briefcase switches hands. What follows is a truly convoluted plot focused on the artefact and involving six different stereotypical characters.
In this piece of new writing the humour is wacky verging on ridiculous. It was, for instance, supposed to be funny that the spy embassy was called Brass Monkey and that another one was called the Pink Lady. The show often relied upon characters making terrible pun related jokes or bizarre Freudian slips (tit for fit) that were called out by the other characters as bad jokes. Otherwise it relied on characters losing control and going loopy. There were plenty of protracted evil laughs and screams to exemplify this.
This was not helped by the lack of confidence demonstrated by the cast, whose skills in projection and carrying themselves onstage were not quite at the same level as more experienced performers. Flora Zaichek had the most natural stage presence and the most confidence in her zaniness. However, apart from an accent slip from aggressive RP to aggressive Scottish, the two characters she played, Molly and Billie, rolled into one.
Georgie Maynard’s acting could have been clearer and more precise- a few of her lines were completely lost. Maynard won more laughs as Jess, the femme fatale of the piece, while her role as Kit, the woman who gets caught up in the excitement of it all and loses her head a bit, was weaker. This could perhaps have been aided by sharper writing and sharper direction. Rob Dewar as the excited but useless PC Willager and the lisping, similarly useless spy Sarasen didn’t look at ease on stage, which was distracting. On occasion there would be a voiceover which would silence and freeze the cast. It would narrate some backstory or introduce a new character. Sometimes it was amusing. Often, its diction was unclear and it dwindled on that little bit too long.
Best Kept Secrets ultimately fails in its sole aim, to entertain audiences. The randomness of many of the jokes may have been funnier if accompanied by a more sober, controlled and confident environment, so that these moments could fully stand out. However, as things stand, Best Kept Secrets is better kept to oneself.