Candlelight’s Forum Theatre.

Ray Cooney and John Chapman’s dreary 1967 sex farce Not Now, Darling has a mechanical plot, witless dialogue, and snickering 12-year-old-boy attitudes about sex. In short, it lacks everything that makes Cooney’s later work fun, most notably his brilliant political farce Out of Order. It even lacks Cooney’s trademark double-entendre title (Wife Begins at Forty, Run for Your Wife).

The show does have lots of mad chases, running gags, near misses, mixed signals, and characters who hide in closets, make up obvious lies, and shed their clothes–all of which might have made a very funny farce if the characters weren’t so shallow and didn’t have so many unfunny lines.

The plot is a forgettable thing about a frenetic, unfaithful furrier who contrives to give his mistress an expensive fur without raising the suspicion of her overprotective husband. Naturally his plans go awry, and soon everyone who steps into the shop is entangled.

Director Bill Pullinsi must have sensed the weakness of the script, because he packed his cast with so many strong comic actors: Dale Benson, Greg Vinkler, Pamela Webster, Lori Kathryn Holton. But they’re all defeated by the material. The women are reduced to slabs of comic meat by the script’s sexism, and the men don’t fare much better. Benson, as the furrier’s associate, works five times as hard as an actor ought to, cringing, mugging, chewing the scenery, trying to squeeze a few snickers out of his flat lines. And he gets them only from the most easily amused members of the audience.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Photo/Roger Lewin-Jennifer Girard Studio.