Farce needs chaos like a goose needs gravy, but Georges Feydeau's late nineteenth-century wife-swapping comedy plays out like an algorithm. Its pandemonium is largely synthetic, carefully constructed so that the worst possible person always enters at the worst possible moment. That crucial comedic ingredient, surprise, is beyond it.
After a slow set-up, the action centres on a triple-booked hotel room, in which several husbands try to bed each other's wives. At the same time, though, everyone's also out to catch their own spouse straying. Cue confusion as cuckolds stalk cuckolds.
In Feydeau's France, adultery was a crime for women, but a mere misdemeanour for men, and 'Sauce for the Goose' has a strong feminist streak. All infidelities, it argues, are equal.
That's little substitute for laughter, however, though Orange Tree regulars were roaring around me. The fault is hardly with Sam Walters's production, though the enforced lack of doors – less fatal than one might imagine – does take the edge off. It's hard to burst in unexpectedly when we've seen your run-up.
Nonetheless, a spirited cast go full pelt, in particular David Antrobus as the hapless Pontagnac, who blusters beautifully as he's busted time and again for the misdeeds of others. Matt Trueman