Oh dear. Amateur Operatic Societies really are riddled with intrigue and clashing personalities, aren't they? You'd think everyone would want to get along, wouldn't you, what with it being a hobby? Not in A Chorus Of Disapproval.
No, in this society, everyone's trying to get one over on someone else, whether that be through the dodgy sale of a piece of land or in the bedding of a rival's lover. There's not much friendship to sing about.
If only Nigel Harman's timid, naïve, Guy Jones, who appears almost childlike perched on a table swinging his legs contentedly, knew the pit of performing vipers he was walking into when, as he arrives to audition, his heartache at least could be spared. But that is not to be, and Harman, a world away from his Olivier Award-winning performance as Shrek's diminutive Lord Farquaad, stumbles from one inappropriate situation to another, folding himself up like an origami leading man, without really realising what's happening.
If Jones is the catalyst for dispute that, judging by the characters of the wrangling warblers, would have happened anyway, Rob Brydon's director Dafydd ap Llewellyn is the driving force of the action. It's a recognisable performance from the Welsh actor and presenter making his West End debut, full of his trademark warmth and frustration. You wouldn't know he was a first timer, so confident is he both on stage and stalking around the auditorium offering direction to the rehearsing 'amateurs' from amid the audience.
Among those amateurs, Ugly Betty's Ashley Jensen returns to Theatreland, bringing quiet internalised anger to the role of Dafydd's wife who is stuck in a relationship as racy as a clamped F1 car, Matthew Cottle bumbles more convincingly than a small furry honey-maker, Daisy Beaumont is intimidatingly voracious as a wife with a penchant for explicit experimentation and Rob Compton's braced and booted Crispin Usher looks more out of place in Am Dram than a mince pie in midsummer.
There's almost too much intrigue in Alan Ayckbourn's comedy, too many clashes that aren't allowed a full exploration. While director Trevor Nunn's interspersing of snippets from The Beggar's Opera - the show being rehearsed - breaks up and slows down the action, the ever-enjoyable Brydon injects pace and wit enough to charm an entire auditorium.