Greek island of Skios, Mrs. Toppler, the patron of an international foundation (Susan Sullivan) has invited internationally
known scholar Dr. Wilfred (Hugh Bonneville) to give a lecture. The responsibility of looking after him devolves on to
Niki Hook (Lisa Dillon), who tries to make sure that all the i's are dotted and t's crossed, so as to ensure a safe visit.
However the best-laid plans seldom fail to work. Niki meets a man who
claims to be Wilfred, but is actually handsome young chancer Oliver Fox (Tom Hollander). Through a combination of charm
and bare-faced cheek, reminiscent of Gogol's government inspector, Fox manages to convince everyone that he is in fact Wilfred
- so much so that when the real Wilfred turns up, no one believes who he actually is. Add to the mixture a farcical
plot involving Fox's girlfriend Georgie (Janie Dee), and it soon becomes clear that director Martin Jarvis has plenty of material
to work with.
As is customary with plays of this nature, the plots become more and more
farcical, leading to an unexpected denouement that reflects on the fleetingness of time and the fragility of identity.
A lot of it is great fun, although the production does contain some lazy elements - notably the comic Greek taxi-drivers Spiros
and Stavros (both played by Jon Glover), who will insist on repeating "no problem" at any and every opportunity. Jarvis'
production also includes some wearyingly predictable images of the English, who insist on shouting louder and louder if no
one understands them.
Nonetheless Skios contains two contrasting central performances
from Hollander and Bonneville, supported by amiable cameos from a star-studded cast including Ian Oglivy, Joanne Whalley,
Stacy Keach and Nigel Anthony. Definitely fun, but minor Frayn.