Guy Jones (Irons), a mundane everyman, is transferred to work in the small town of Scarborough, where he struggles to mingle with their cliched ways, resorting to an Am-Dram society to spice up his time there. There's seduction, intrigue (apparently) and backstabbing behind the curtain, but who cares?
Despite having a hand in all areas of production, right down to location scouting in his hometown of Scarborough, Alan Ayckbourn has expressed dissatisfaction with this, the first of his stage successes to be adapted for cinema. Perhaps one reason for his reaction is that up there on the big screen the dated vocabulary of his cosy farce is ruthlessly amplified. As with the Killing Dad and Shirley Valentine, Ayckbourn’s play creaks with humour and characters that have seen active service in numerous insipid sitcoms and are long overdue for retirement. Examining the manners and mores of a small community, the plot is fairly typical Ayckbourn fare. Guy Jones (Irons), transferred by his firm to work in Scarborough, seeks escape from his lonely lodgings by auditioning for a walk-on part in the local amateur production of The Beggar’s Opera. There he encounters a collection of Great British Eccentrics: pompous councillor Huntley Pike and his snotty wife, the spineless Washbrooks, the swinging Bacardi and Coke set, bored wives and bitchy women. Encouraged by the company’s fanatical director (Anthony Hopkins hamming it up in good style and giving the film’s only 100 per cent performance), Guy rises swiftly through the ranks to the role of male lead MacHeath and is simultaneously drawn into a hotbed of adultery and intrigue.
Best known for his gritty and violent Deathwish trilogy with Charles Branson, this is a distinct change of pace for director Winner and is, as he says, his first film in years in which all the cast are still alive at the end. But perhaps a death or two wouldn’t have been such a bad thing here.
Despite a lively pace and some good performances (Patsy Kensit has found her niche in her portrayal of an average actress). A Chorus Of Disapproval is largely an uninspired effort which drags towards a predictable close and goes out with a muted whimper rather than the bang it so desperately needs.
A pretty vacant play on the original material, which desperately needed updating but is reproduced verbatim. It's hard to remember such a strong cast being so underused.