Well-loved No Sex farce comes to Singapore uncensored

What is historically the longest running comedy on London's West End is coming to Singapore.

No Sex Please - We're British, written by Alistair Foot and Anthony Marriott, premiered in 1971 and ran for 16 years.

Despite an initial lack of critical acclaim, the show played to full houses during its run in London and it was also staged on Broadway.

The British Theatre Playhouse, which brought Yes, Prime Minister to Singapore audiences last year, will be staging No Sex Please here from May 6 to 16 at Raffles Hotel's Jubilee Hall.

The comedy will feature a cast of nine from London, including actor Nick Wilton, who played the market inspector in the award-winning BBC soap opera, EastEnders.

In No Sex Please, he stars as Brian Runnicles, friend and colleague of unlucky protagonist, Peter Hunter, who is played by Harry Livingstone. Peter lives with his new wife, Frances, in a flat above the bank where he works.

Married life in the 1970s is portrayed to be idyllic until Frances innocently sends out an order for Scandinavian glassware, only to receive Scandinavian pornography instead.

What follows is an amusing cat-and-mouse game as the two newlyweds try to hide the raunchy goods from a neurotic mother-in-law, a visiting bank inspector and an impossibly nosy superintendent.

Even though the play primarily pokes fun at British idiosyncrasies, director Alister Cameron, 66, says it will still be an enjoyable experience for audiences elsewhere.

The West End veteran says in a telephone interview from London: "Humour is universal. Everyone can appreciate a funny situation."

He adds that Singapore will get "the full strength of the play, uncensored and with no adaptations".

When the play was introduced in the 1970s, it was criticised for its low-brow humour. But Cameron believes that the show's continued popularity with audiences is a testament to its merit as a piece of drama.

He says: "Even when critics were too snooty to enjoy the show, they always had to begrudgingly acknowledge that the people to their left and right were roaring with laughter."

Cameron, who will also act in the play as Superintendent Noah, acknowledges that sex is now much less taboo than it was in the 1970s.

However, he feels that the issue still invokes a kind of innate schoolboy humour.

He adds: "Sex has been funny since we told each other dirty jokes at the playground and it will always continue to be. Some parts of us just never grow up."

He has had a prolific career in London's West End, starring in productions such as A Midsummer Night's Dream at the Regents Park Open Air Theatre and Tom Stoppard's The Real Thing.

In 1993, he founded his own theatre company, Richmond Productions.

As an actor, he has a penchant for comedy. His father, Charles Cameron, used to star in the famous Whitehall Farces.

He has passed on the love of comedy to his own daughter, Charlie Cameron, who will be performing in a farce, Stop, at The Trafalgar Studios in London.

He says his family finds comedy "addictive" as they relish the challenge of executing it well.

Farces such as No Sex Please, he adds, not only require actors to get the comic timing exactly right, but the cast also needs to sustain an element of truth in the performances.

He says: "Farces work only when there are real characters facing an unreal situation. A clown falling over is not as funny as a self-righteous politician falling on his backside.

"In No Sex Please, the main character Peter Hunter has to behave like he is genuinely in love with his wife and frightened for his job. He has to be performed as an absolutely truthful character in order for audiences to laugh."

Farces have not been popular among contempo- rary playwrights, but Cameron believes that they are making a comeback.

Singapore audiences do not have to take his word for it. Starting next week, they will be able to see for themselves.