The Amorous Ambassador

There’s nothing that says 'Edinburgh Festival Fringe' quite like the portrayal of sex on stage: that said, compared with many of the thousands of shows in Edinburgh this August, there’s an genuine old-school innocence about Michael Parker’s The Amorous Ambassador. Given that the show’s being performed in a church hall, perhaps it’s just as well that acclaimed amateur company Leitheatre have opted for a traditional farce to mark their 34th year on the Fringe.

it may not be ‘pushing the envelope’ in any significant way, but it’s a fine example of its kind

Admittedly, farces can bring their own particular problems. Derek Blackwood’s set, while it does the job, wobbles on occasions, although that’s probably inevitable given its scale and how many doors and French windows he’s had to include. When it comes to performance, farces also need a light but broad touch; while we have here a clearly talented, well-selected ensemble, there are nevertheless moments when the show doesn’t quite fly as delicately as it could and should. That said, this is likely to sort itself out as the cast get into the flow of nightly performances.

The chief protagonist in The Amorous Ambassador is sex-obsessed philanderer Harry Douglas, a former senator who is now the US Ambassador to Britain. Featured in Parker’s earlier farce, The Sensuous Senator, Harry still has an eye for the fair sex, not least his new glamorous neighbour Marian Murdoch, whom he invites over in the belief that both his wife Lois and daughter Debbie will be away. A series of complications, however, ensure an ongoing flow of double entendres and innuendoes, slammed doors and missed encounters, misunderstandings and confused identities that no farce worthy of the name should be without.

Many of the cast are clearly having a great time—not least Tim Foley, who appears to be channelling the late Clifton James (best remembered as Sheriff J W Pepper in Roger Moore’s first two James Bond films) as the conspiracy-seeking security chief Captain South. The result is a production that serves its material well; it may not be ‘pushing the envelope’ in any significant way, but it’s a fine example of its kind.

Reviews by Paul F Cockburn

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The Blurb

When Harry Douglas, the new American Ambassador to Britain, tells his family he's off to Scotland to play golf, his wife and daughter announce weekend plans of their own. The new butler, Perkins, watches stoically as each leaves and secretly returns for romantic rendezvous in a seemingly empty house. Harry's secretary and Captain South of Marine Corps Embassy Security then arrive in the wake of a bomb threat and the embassy is sealed, with hilarious results. Even the imperturbable Perkins is drawn into the shenanigans. 'Hilarious – will keep you in constant laughter' (Corpus Christi Caller Times).