The Amorous Ambassador is a contemporary comedy farce, written by Michael Parker. Harry Douglas, the American Ambassador to Britain, announces plans to be away for the weekend – as do his wife and daughter. Perkins, the new and very proper butler, watches as various members of the household take advantage of the seemingly empty house, and return home for secret assignations…
The production is staged by Leitheatre, a local theatre company celebrating their 34th year at the festival. The cast is made up of four men and four women of differing ages – a level of diversity you don’t always find at the Fringe. Equally unusually, The Amorous Ambassador is performed in its entirety: over 2 hours with an interval, and its status as the only production at this great venue means a permanent set can be used.
That set nicely captures the living room of the Ambassadorial residence, with French windows at the back and a number of doors leading off to other areas of the house. But the setting and costumes don’t give a clear indication of the time period; the farcical style and old-school characters hark back to an earlier era, which doesn’t gel well with the mention of fax machines. It is only late on in the second act that it's made clear we're in the 1990’s.
The cast fully embrace their roles, and there's perfect comic timing from all involved. That's all the more impressive as so much is reliant on physical movement across the whole space, which could very easily have lost its rhythm. Special kudos must be given to Philip Wilson as Joe, who has to run around the set repeatedly while wearing sparkly high heels and performing a number of lightening costume changes. No mean feat.
In the debit column, some of the American accents are terrible. This didn't detract from my own enjoyment, but others may find it quite distracting that the American Ambassador has a distinctly Scottish brogue. My other issues are with the script: the wordplay is fun but not quite as clever as it thinks it is, and the plot depends a little too much on one of the characters, Miss Baker, being a complete klutz.
But these are minor issues. Overall, The Amorous Ambassador is an impeccably-rehearsed and able production, which provides plenty of laughs in a lovely venue.