Charley’s Aunt/Worcester Repertory Company

THIS is indeed a farce to be reckoned with… and the fact that the Rep includes among its ranks quite a few posh chaps certainly helps as well.

So basically it all flows as naturally as that first champers of the day. For example, the role of toff schemer Jack Chesney is tailor-made for Ben Humphrey, whose Boris Johnson style of verbal delivery fits this Brandon Thomas classic like a finely ironed white glove.

Mind you, he’s given a run for his money in the chinless wonder department by Jamie Kwasnik as best chum Charley Wykeham, whose inane brand of laughter is worth an Arts Council grant in itself.

Then we have the glorious, over-the-top Lord Fancourt Babberley doubling up as the aunt in the title, played with uproarious aplomb by John-Robert Partridge, who – unlike the rest of his mates – probably really is posh.

And completing the scene is the lugubrious Edward Manning, perfectly cast as the long-suffering manservant Brassett, very much the equivalent of Downton Abbey’s Carson.

Director Chris Jaeger often injects a modicum of British nudge-nudge ad libs into his productions and this rollicking tale of preposterous deception is no exception. Hey come on, this is showbiz dahlings.

True to the 1890s setting, the girls bring up the rear and we’re not just talking bustles here. Victoria Lucie (Kitty Verdun) and Alison Hellings (Amy Spettigue) as are kittenish and fragrantly demure as one would expect from a couple of well-bred fillies.

Meanwhile, Jonathan Darby (Stephen Spettigue) runs around like a headless estate pheasant, perhaps more gamekeeper in his bowler than a gentleman of means.

Throughout, the laughs come thick and fast, thanks to slick direction and the very great talents of all concerned. This is the Rep’s 11th outing in the Commandery gardens and the company most certainly maintained the high standard that we have come to expect.

Charley’s Aunt runs until Sunday (July 23).

John Phillpott