A sparkling quartet
didi-5 from United Kingdom
12 November 2011
'The Hothouse' was one of the most popular entries in the series of
Armchair Theatre plays which ran on British television from 1956 to
1974, and scored very high ratings on its first transmission.
Apart from the first scene, set at the annual dance for the employees
of a chain of supermarkets, there are only four characters showcased in
this drama of ambition and infidelities, with four actors working at
the top of their game. Diana Rigg makes her debut TV appearance (which
would eventually win her the role of The Avengers' Emma Peel) as Anita
Fender, twenty-eight, mother of two, a bit of lush and suspecting her
marriage has gone stale. Veteran Armchair Theatre player Harry H
Corbett plays her tycoon husband Harry Fender, who has built up the
supermarket business from the time he was a delivery boy in his teens -
he's now over forty and obsessed with developing the exotic plants in
Into this brew are dropped the recently married Parsleys - Gordon
(Donald Churchill, who wrote this play) is assistant manager at one of
the supermarket branches and hopes to be promoted to manager; his wife
Charlotte (Miranda Connell) is a blonde stunner who has already
attracted the eye of the boss at the annual dance, where they performed
a tango together.
The main premise of the story is what happens when Anita invites the
Parsleys for the weekend, and presents Miranda with a proposition which
could secure her husband his promotion. But does everything go to plan?
This play is a delight, funny (there's one delicious double-take
between Corbett and Connell which is hilarious), spicy, and surprising.
Rigg definitely makes an impression and Corbett removes thoughts of
Harold Steptoe with his bored and passionate lover of blondes. Connell
also shows a deft gift for comedy and Churchill doesn't disappoint in a
role which he clearly relishes playing.
This lost gem can be viewed on DVD as an extra on the restored Avengers
series four release. It's not to be missed.
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