The Amorous Ambassador

Aug 11 2017 | By More

★★★☆☆  A good stab

Inverleith St Serf’s Church Centre (Venue 83): Sat 5 – Sat 19 Aug 2017
Review by Linus West

Peppered with comic potential, Leitheatre’s production of The Amorous Ambassador clearly has a talented team behind it, as it plays the Inverleith St Serf’s Church Centre for the first fortnight of the fringe.

However, despite strong characterisation, the comedy falls short as they fail to break through at the key moments, leaving many of the most witty lines lost in the action.

Some of the Amorous cast. Pic Leitheatre

The performance kicks off in what is soon revealed to be the official residence of the US ambassador to Britain. It takes place in one living room, with doors leading off to various bedrooms and public rooms, created in a convincing and professional set by designer Derek Blackwood.

The ambassador, his wife, and daughter are all supposedly going away separately for the weekend. However, they’re all lying – none are really leaving after all. One by one, they approach the butler, Perkins, tell him of their intentions to stay behind, their own plans in mind, then swear him to secrecy.

Let’s be clear – these aren’t bad actors. Most are, in fact, very convincing in their roles; not once do they slip out of character. The deciding component of a farce though, is how the puns and punchlines are delivered. Close to 50% of these are brushed over, and fall flat. Michael Parker’s original script is held back from reaching its full, side-splitting potential.

Clearly an experienced actor, Kevin Rowe’s rigid performance as Perkins creates a comic contrast with the other, wilder characters. Stiffly he stands, the soul of discretion – unable to tell any of the three that the other two have had the exact same idea.


The moment his daughter and wife are out the door, the ambassador picks up the telephone to call the neighbour, letting her know the coast is clear. Their affair is well portrayed through Brian Thomson’s interpretation of the flirtatious diplomat. His body language and accent are all smoothly executed, it’s just the more subtle punchlines he skims over.

The Cast of The Amorous Ambassador. Pic: Leitheatre

Ruth Murphy, as the ambassador’s daughter, is also attempting to sneak in a secret lover. Although her performance is nowhere near terrible, it is the one which could do with the most work. She knows what she’s trying to do, but her American accent in particular needs more work and makes the character hard to like.

Tim Foley portrays the fanatical Captain South – an American military officer, stationed at the residence to protect the ambassador.

Completely out of the blue, he strides in and announces there has been a bomb threat, putting the building under lockdown. Although Foley sells it as best he can with a booming personality, that doesn’t stop it from just feeling weird. His admirable efforts are overshadowed by the fact the concept he is tasked with delivering comes across as half-baked and out of place.

Accompanying the captain is bumbling secretary to the ambassador, Faye Baker. Alix Spinks delivers one of the standout performances, fully inhabiting the incompetence and clumsiness of her character, resulting in the loudest laughs of the evening.

Over the course of two hours, the night descends into further madness. Wacky cosplaying costumes, doors constantly slammed in the face, and a genuinely funny mishap regarding superglue. The combination of personalities and motives is well used to comic effect. If you’re the type of person that will laugh at even the smallest gag, this will be fun.

Despite the odd cringe at a fluffed pun or unconvincing accent, it isn’t a disaster. The company are clearly all trying their best, but just need to turn it up to eleven. This script is meant to be something that leaves you crying with laughter, instead you’re treated to the odd chuckle. A good stab, but still requiring some work.

Running time 2 hours 15 minutes (including one interval)
Inverleith St Serf’s Church Centre, 1a Clark Road, EH5 3BD (Venue 83) ​
Saturday 5 – Saturday 19 August 2017
Daily (Not Sun, Sat 19) 7.30pm; Sat 19: 2.30pm only.
Tickets from the #EdFringe website:

Leitheatre on Twitter: @LeitheatreEdin
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Comments (2)

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  1. Irene Cuthbert says:

    Well I was there on Tuesday evening and the audience loved it from the word go. They clapped the set, laughed all the way through and whooped and hollered at the end. The timing of the cast was perfect and the jokes all came over. Your review is unfair.

  2. Kim says:

    I do not understand what you mean by “Although her performance is nowhere near terrible, it is the one which could do with the most work. She knows what she’s trying to do, but her American accent in particular needs more work and makes the character hard to like.”

    – I was there seeing the show the other day and I thought Ruth actually gave the play a fluid progression and without her the audience wouldn’t of had a clue what was happening. Everyone across the board who had an American accent did struggle at times but did not stop the overall enjoyment of the production.

    I think it’s uncalled for, singling out Ruth like that. She knew exactly what she was doing and was very convincing in her role and character and she was actually one of my favourites. I am genuinely disgruntled with your mediocre review!!!

    It’s clear to me that you obviously don’t have a sense of humour whatsoever.