THE STAGE - REVIEW
10th April 2007
It hits the ground running, this play. Right away seasoned sitcom writer Greg Freeman introduces us to divorcee Dominic, played hanged-doggedly by Charles Armstrong, who is bemoaning the fate of his cat, soon to be neutered by his ex-wife. It sets the pitch for an hilarious, well-observed hour and a half of sitcomedy.
Wake Up and Smell the Coffee is like Friends ten years on, when the characters are bitter and middle aged-spreading themselves around the coffee shop. Narcoleptic pie millionaire Harry (a good performance from Daniel Hill) is lusty but lost, while Georgina (the right combination of neurosis and fragility by Clare Kissane) is lost and lonely.
Into this comes the maelstrom that is Harry’s ex-wife Hanny, a typhoonic performance from Helen Lederer, who dominates proceedings by playing on everyone’s already pained neuroses.
The comedy is quick and well-paced with Ninon Jerome’s direction adding grease to the mix. There is the feel of a quality television sitcom about this piece. Ironic considering that a “feel of a quality” is exactly what’s missing from most television sitcoms.
Even without Lederer this would be a well-paced, highly enjoyable sitcom, but her performance gives it all something extra. She could easily have swamped the production with hammed up, ubercamp over-the-topness, but this seasoned comedy performer shows an exquisite touch.
That the end feels like the end of the middle episode in a well-received television comedy fails to detract from this production that would do very well on the touring circuit. [Jeremy Austin].