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Classic chorus of laughs and nostalgia

A Chorus of Disapproval, Abbey Theatre Nuneaton, until September 16.

One of Alan Ayckbourne's classics, A Chorus of Disapproval, defies its gloomy title to offer plenty of laughs.

The talented Sudden Impulse Theatre Company admit they're hoping the Ayckbourne brand will encourage bigger audiences for this short run. And it's certainly a dramatic switch from previous offerings like Trainspotting, and their successful summer production of A Midsummer Night's Dream.

This particular comedy offers a gift of a role to Rob Hiatt, who demonstrates immaculate comic timing in his portrayal of Dafydd, the beleaguered Welsh director in rehearsal with a mixed bunch of characters in a local amateur operatic society, few of whom seem able to sing.

The stage has some elaborate moving scenery which neatly allows the action to move from village hall to local pub where brash stage manager Bridget Baines - played by Bridie Vowles - has a whale of a time in her "day job", serving up beer at 35p a pint.

Yes, believe it or not, that was the price of beer in 1984, when this play first opened in Scarborough.

And to be honest this all felt a bit dated to me - but then if you didn't live through those times, this could be a good fun insight into what things were like back then.

There are some great parts, not least the swinging sex-siren Fay, played by Jade Bloomer, lovelorn Hannah (Jessica Newborough), and love-lost Linda (Fay Rusted).

I did feel Louis Dunderdale as shy Guy suffered a few first night nerves but watch out for his hilarious mixed-messages scene with sultry Fay which certainly sheds a few inhibitions.

Nathan Harvey and Sophie Sherratt also had fun with their supporting roles while the whole era comes vividly to life in the final scenes with Dafydd bemoaning the state of his marriage.

When Guy queries why he hadn't checked out his wife's compatibility before their wedding night Dafydd puts the legacy of the Swinging Sixties into perspective, simply lamenting there were: "no sale or returns in my part of Wales."

This may not be my favourite Ayckbourn play, but do try it for the fond look back in nostalgia.

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