Review: On the Piste, Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough

Roxanne Pallett in On the Piste
Roxanne Pallett in On the Piste

This comedy set on the ski slopes of Chamonix was an Olivier award winner in 1993.

Updated by its writer and director John Godber and dressed in the latest gear, it’s back on a tour which ends in Scarborough on Saturday.

With a body of work as big as Godber’s there is bound to be some plays that are better than others and this one – dragged into the 21st century as it has been – is still so-so.

It’s a little thin on plot and laughs – especially in the first half.

That said, the five-strong cast give it everything and wring every last drop of laughter and heart-ache from the script.

Because, despite being on the slopes of the French Alps, this is familiar Godber territory: class, snobbery and relationships.

Two couples – Alison and Chris who have been together 13 years and are hanging on in there like a melting stalactite, and Bev and Dave, three months together – are reluctantly thrown together with ski instructor Tony.

This is more about the fragility of the couples’ relationships as it is about ski-ing – and is concerned about whether they will make it to the end of the week or break up before they get to the bottom of the nursery slopes.

The acting all round is endearing: from Tom Rooke’s vain instructor Tony who loves his own body more than life itself, to Roxanne Pallett’s chavvy Bev whose love life is as stable as a novice on a snowboard.

Samantha Seager has real depth as the bored Alison, as does Peter McMillan as her partner, the cynical, world-weary voiceover artist Dave. Matthew Stathers’ Dave turns out to be the real dark horse of the pack.

There are some great set pieces – the cable car getting stuck and the sauna session (which brings the house down and the curtain of the first half). Ladies, it’s an unabashed Diet Coke break moment.

On the Piste offers a light-hearted, with one or two heart-piercing moments, night out.

It is on Thursday November 20 at 1.30pm and 7pm; Friday November 21 at 7.30pm and Saturday November 22 at 2.30pm and 7.30pm.

Review Sue Wilkinson