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Breath of Spring

Theatre 40, in Beverly Hills, opened their 51st Season with a British comedy by British Playwright Peter Coke (pronounced Cook). Coke, an actor as well as a writer, was born April 6, 1913 and died July 30, 2008. His play, Breath of Spring, was written in 1958 and first produced in Nottingham that same year.

The setting takes place in the living-room of Dame Beatrice’s flat in England (Melinda DeKay). The flat (a glorious set by Jeff G. Rack) houses lodgers as well as Lily Thompson, Dame Beatrice’s maid (Alison Blanchard), whom she hired even though she was aware of her dubious past. When Lily shows her appreciation by giving her a fur coat, Dame Beatrice is certain that it was stolen.

The lodgers are an incongruent group of characters consisting of Miss Nanette Parry (Flora Plumb), Brigadier Albert Rayne (Lary Ohlsen), Lady Alice (Katherine Henryk), and Hattie (Jean Kauffman). They decide to pull together to help both Dame Beatrice and Lily by planning a way to return the fur before it is missed.

When their feat is accomplished, an idea pops into their minds. If they could so easily return the fur, why not work the same way to steal furs to raise money for the needy?! With the Brigadier organizing the group and all of them working out the plans, together, all goes well until Scotland Yard calls on them. What will happen to this group of gullible miscreants? Will someone come to their rescue to save them from prison?

Because this play is typical British humor, it fails to humor American audiences in the same way. On opening night it was disconcerting when, at times, the cast had problems keeping their British accents flowing throughout the play. Perhaps that will be resolved as the run continues. Bruce Gray directs.

Breath of Spring plays Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 PM, Sundays at 2 PM, through August 12, at Theatre 40 in the Rueben Cordova Theatre, 241 S. Moreno Drive, Beverly Hills. For reservations, call (310) 364-0535, or online ticketing is available at