I seem to be a regular of Bill Kenwright’s productions and this last minute addition to the Theatres list following the cancellation of Doctor Dolittle was no exception.Tom Stoppard’s comedic play Rough Crossing has a small cast of well accomplished actors and a couple of songs thrown in for good measure – but a musical it is not.

It’s the 1930s and we board the luxury liner SS Italian Castle as it crosses the Atlantic to New York.Also boarding are two successful playwrights Sandor Turai (John Partridge) and Alex Gal (Matthew Cottle) who are attempting to finish their latest masterpiece during the four days at sea. They are accompanied by their young composer Adam Adam (Rob Ostlere – better know as Arthur Digby from Holby City.)

The leading stars of their new play are already onboard – Natasha Navratilova (Issy Van Randwyck) who is currently dating young Adam and Ivor Fish (Simon Dutton – alias The Saint) who is still in love with Natasha despite being married.

Throw in cabin steward Dvornichek (Charlie Stemp) and your cast is complete.Ivor’s declaration of love to Natasha is overheard by the two playwrights and Adam which sends Adam into despair – cue an attempt from Turai to save the play and the composers heart.

What unfolds is some funny lines, very professional acting – wouldn’t expect anything less – and not a forgotten word in a very complex script. So well rehearsed that sometimes the lines were said so fast that it was hard to follow.How does Matthew Cottle eat all that food EVERY night?

Do the cast ever start to feel seasick when acting out the lifeboat drill? Can’t be easy to do that day in day out.Standout performance Charlie Stemp – wonder if the cast have ever replaced the drinks with real Cognac?

Loved how he was stumbling on a calm ship and waking perfectly fine when the rest were battling the rough seas – one of the many clever bits throughout the play that can be easily missed.Charlie will be the perfect Bert when Mary Poppins makes its return to London in October and I cannot wait to see him light up the stage.

A pleasant way to spend an evening and not too long so even time for a nightcap if you wish!Rough Crossing, Theatre Royal Nottingham until Saturday 20th April

Pamela Raith Photography

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