Michael Frayn's latest novel Skios is a side-splitting comic delight, which takes in almost every sub-genre from drop-your-pants farce and slapstick to verbal jokes and a satire of intellectual poseurs. Published last year, the book was criticised for over-reliance on farce at the expense of characterisation, but this adaptation, by Archie Scottney, provides more balance to the competing elements.
Hugh Bonneville plays scientist Dr Norman Wilfred with only a little of the weary grandiloquence the actor cultivated on Downton Abbey. Wilfred arrives on a Greek island to give a speech to a cultural foundation, but his place has been assumed fraudulently by Oliver Fox, played with blase charm by Tom Hollander.
Thwarted seductions alternate with Fox's pseudo-philosophical assertions, lapped up by an adoring coterie that dare not declare that the emperor - like several of the cast - isn't wearing any clothes.
Jon Glover brings the house down with his rendition of Spiros and Stavros, two manic cabbies whose question as to the identity of their passenger - "Fox Oliver?" - is taken for a talismanic local phrase. The question of identity and mis-identity is at the heart of the piece, although I couldn't help wondering why someone doesn't whip out their smartphone and unmask the interloper.Moira Petty, The Stage, 21st January 2013