The Ealing Inheritance is a comic tale of intrigue, gold-digging and dastardly dissimulation reminiscent of many an Ealing comedy - hence the double meaning of the play’s witty title. Here, bizarre spinster sisters, Emma (Liz Tomley) and Felicity (Emily Piercey), are wooed by the eligible Professor Price (played by writer and director Simon Massingham) who may not actually be all that he seems. But then, neither are the sisters. Throw into the mix a not-so-stupid ‘stupid’ sidekick, Sellers – think of a young George Cole type – and you have the makings of an amusing faux-love-interest, double-crossing narrative which, interestingly, spirals downwards into a species of comic gothic horror involving the sisters’ deceased father. This put me in mind of The Monkey’s Paw. Be careful what you wish for, because you might just get it! The Ealing Inheritance is all about the plot, and I won’t spoil it here - to say more would be to give too much away…
The Ealing Inheritance is a thoroughly entertaining, harmless English comedy, which will prove to be an hour amusingly spent.
It’s safe to say that if you like your comedy broad, your characterisations exaggeratedly large, and in the style of The League of Gentlemen, then there is plenty to enjoy here. Massingham has done well to get the whole cast to hit the same level of characterisation: there is no naturalistic acting on this stage. Massingham himself has shades of Rowan Atkinson about him, and Emily Piercey gives a wonderfully demented performance as Felicity, who has never been outside for fear of ‘men’. Isaac Finch, as Sellers, also gets his moment in a surprising, bizarre, and surreal musical number. Perhaps the least successful character is Emma. Liz Tomley has less room for manoeuvre playing the lascivious, controlling elder sister, who somehow seems more two-dimensional than the others, although Tomley plays it spiritedly.
The script is frequently funny, as is some of the business, although the timing could be sharper at times. A fight scene between Emma and Price, for possession of a telephone, rather lacked precision. There are also a few ‘theatrical jokes’, which I suspect would work better if there were more of them during the play. As they stand, they do not happen frequently enough to comfortably set up the convention. It was also surprising, somehow, to find that the play is set in the present – or at least in the era of mobile phone – as the plot, and the writing, more obviously suggest a setting sometime in a bygone Ealing Comedy Neverland.
That said, The Ealing Inheritance is a thoroughly entertaining, harmless English comedy, which will prove to be an hour amusingly spent. Go and see it.