While The Sun Shines: An Englishman, An American and a Frenchman Walk Into A Flat….

Wonderfully filmed in the round at the Orange Tree Theatre, Richmond — like some of the audience, I felt like I was in the action at all times. It’s a Terence Rattigan farce which has aged well — a case of mistaken identities, confused emotions and how many people you can fit in a kitchen or bedroom! Tremendous fun! Another Christmas cancellation switched to on demand.

It’s the Second World War and an Earl has rescued an American serviceman from a drunken sleep on the pavement. The butler is having a bad day because he never knows what he’s going to find next. The American can’t believe his luck — a real Earl’s apartment and the Earl is getting married in the morning. Even better the Earl has arranged a date for the American; this gets cancelled in business language when the Earl’s future father-in-law arrives. But no-one tells the American….

The Earl’s fiancee arrives and announces that she’s invited a Frenchman she met on the train to stay at the Earl’s apartment for the evening. Only there is already an American….The Frenchman turns up to check out his new pad for the night and declares his love for the financee (only she is affianced).

The American mistakes the fiancee for the date and proceeds to hit on her. This was the only cringy bit — deliberately trying, and indeed forcing (despite repeated ‘no’s) to get a woman drunk to make her more ‘comfortable’. There is a dance, a kiss, a moment of realisation as the American is warned who he’s really trying to hit on, a running away from the mess, and the fiancee goes to sleep off a hangover, only to decide that she no longer wants to marry the Lord. But she can’t decide who she wants to choose instead….

Meanwhile the Lord has brought home his mistress, Mabel Crumm, who seems to know everyone (including the father-in-law to be) and after shooting some dice for who should get to marry the fiancee, the American goes in search of her as the ‘winner’; the Lord chooses Mabel Crumm as his new intended because they get on ‘so well’. Weirdly after a romantic night of park life with the American, the fiancee gravitates back to her naval Lord and the poor Frenchman never gets a look in. Mabel Crumm backs out of the wedding for a place on the directors board; the fiancee chooses her Lord and well, the wedding may never happen as the men are now shooting dice for who gets to be best man…

Charmingly played, think lots of running in and out of doors and a very shocked butler.

@Photographs are the author’s own from the on demand stream of the Orange Tree Theatre Production, 22nd January 2022



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