Much has been written, performed and aimed at Essex, most of it patronising (even if it is sometimes a little bit true). One glance at TV's execrable The Only Way Is Essex, replete with tottering high-heeled blondes and vacuous strutting male peacocks 'giving it all that', is enough to put anyone off the county's real characters, the ones who make Essex what it really is. Unless you head to Barking, that is. And you happen to be fifty times more hapless than the key players in TOWIE, Essex Boys (and its proposed rework, The Fall of the Essex Boys) and the like. In short, you're really in lumber if you're called Darnley Packer.
Writer of Poirot, 10 Rillington Place and Jeeves and Wooster, Clive Exton is the man behind Barking in Essex, a comedy crime caper that boasts an already mirth-inducing cast. Livewire comic (and pretty decent actor - check him out in the family film Mousehunt for proof) Lee Evans is Darnley, a criminal as useful as a paper hair-brush and as unlikely a contributor to the seedy dishonest underworld you could wish to do business with.
Attempting to keep him in check (and alive) is his ferocious mother Emmie, played by Sheila Hancock and the plot itself is centred on Darnley's attempts to outwit notorious family-member Algie who has just been released from prison - and wants his 3.6 million quid back. That nice Packer family have a reputation to uphold - one that could bring them more trouble than it's worth.
The Wyndham Theatre in Charing Cross Road will host a four-month run for the all-star production, starting with previews from 6th to 14th September 2013 and running until 4th January 2014. Prices range from £22.50 to £42.50. You'd be Barking to miss it.