Skip to main content

Review of Allo Allo by the St. Albans Charity Players Of Northampton at St. Albans The Martyr Church, Northampton

It is safe to say that the sitcom Allo Allo was very much a product of its time and if you didn't live through it and sat through the play being performed by St Albans Charity Players this week, you may well wonder what the hell was going on.

I lived through Allo Allo and I have to say I enjoyed the slapstick pointless antics of a style of sitcom that probably no longer exists (some would say "Thank God"). Its silly, often risque comedy was very much of its time, but during the eighties there was a lot of it about. Thanks to writers like Jeremy Lloyd, David Croft and Jimmy Perry. It was all good clean (but with hidden meanings) fun.

The stage play is a bit like a greatest hits with a loose plot, concerning a visit by Hitler and that famous painting. Written by the original writers the play takes place across seven different locations (mostly within Rene's cafe) which were cleverly realised in such a small area at the front of the hall. Individually lit to direct our eyes in the right direction.

Opening on the main stage of the cafe, the opening monologue was by Rene in true original episode style. Playing Rene was Adrian Wyman, the undoubted star of the show, holding the entire piece together and on stage for much of the hour and forty minute production. He had a suitably dodgy accent, which I have to say most of the cast pulled off, an important part of the series. His delivery was also perfect and I suspect the great Gordon Kaye would have been more than happy with his portrayal.

The rest of the cast were generally good, there were the obvious casting issues, which I suspect it not uncommon for amateur productions. Derrol Barnes was far from bald enough to play Colonel Von Strohm, but the hair jokes were covered fine. While Vicki Pankhurst was certainly not short enough as Mimi to need the stall. However these are mere minor issues as the cast certainly threw themselves into their roles with great spirit.

Although her role was not large, I particularly liked Diane Wyman as Helga, a favourite of mine in the original show and one of the closest representations of the original cast (Kim Hartman) in the production. Also Mark Mortimer was great as Crabtree, as ever getting many of the best lines as the bumbling policeman "pissing the cafe".

Generally it was an excellent production with I think generally the only sticky moments coming from the source material rather than the cast, the scene with Leclerc and that cockatoo a particularly painful scene which lasted too long. The only comment I would make on the production side would be the lighting for the cinema scene, a touch uncomfortable for myself to sit through, but that may just be myself.

On a side note to the play, much like my experience of the Northampton Musical Theatre Company when I attended Blitz, I have to say I was bowled over by the organisation of the whole event. With an interval drinks order and waitress service and in character raffles, it really was just great.

If you were a fan of the original series, I would certainly recommend you try to make it to see the play, and if you weren't, maybe take someone who was with you to explain what the big boobies is going on! Also, its all for charity, so everyone wins.

'Allo 'Allo is on until Saturday 28th June, 2014 with shows each evening at 7:30pm with a matinee at 2:30pm on Saturday.
The St. Albans Charity Players Of Northampton have a website at http://www.gafavgc.org.uk and a Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Saint-albans-charity-players-of-northampton/605746242786410?fref=ts

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Review of The Blue Road by R&D Young Company at Royal & Derngate (Royal), Northampton

I have a 100% strike record with the wonderful Youth Theatre group at Royal & Derngate, they have never let me down with a show and sometimes with those of Sweeney Todd and Kontact, have provided me with some of the very optimum theatre points of each year. The Blue Road, their very latest production for me is slightly less successful.

However, it thankfully and perhaps not surprisingly, is nothing to do with the constantly talented bunch of actors that gather in this group. My problem lies in two places, of play selection and the way it is told. The Blue Road chronicles the story of a group of young people on the backend of a not totally described crisis, and this, unfortunately, is where we were more or less just two years ago with the Young Company and their show Immune. I have always been interested in these post apocalyptic stories and often love them, however for the same group to do two so close together feels a shame. They challenge certainly, but I am sure there are many…

Review of Great Expectations by The Royal & Derngate Actors Company at Royal & Derngate (Royal), Northampton

Market Boy from The Actors Company last year was a remarkable show and is likely to stay with me for a long time, so following it with this year's production was always going to be a tough call and with their production of the epic Dickens classic Great Expectations, they at least didn't lack ambition.

I have to be honest, things for me didn't start well. The first few minutes of this adaptation by Declan Donnellan and Nick Ormerod is a busy and convoluted sequence moving the opening part of the story in an unclear and often irritating way. For those present not aware of the original story, I wouldn't envy them trying to keep up with what is going on. However much of the trouble of this opening sequence is quickly corrected as scenes become more defined and controlled and the story is allowed to develop at a slower pace.

Perhaps also in the early part, it doesn't help either that the gender-swapped Magwitch played by Salli Bersham is a little too full on with the o…

Review of Hansel & Gretel by Warts & All at Delapré Abbey, Northampton

For those unfamiliar with Kneehigh Theatre (from where this show originally comes), the best way of explaining them is that they do traditional things, differently. This performance by Warts and All Theatre of their adaptation of the classic tale of Hansel & Gretel tells you much of what you need to know early on as a (human) rabbit is pinned down upon a table and skinned (half their costume removed). It is just one of an evening of wacky and quite brilliant moments as this production sours mostly for the sky of brilliance.

Handed to a cast of young performers, the result is often disturbingly professional. Sure it is still rough around the edges at times, but perhaps this helps the material. It doesn't actually matter if there is sparring from the cast with the audience, knowing looks and playfulness. It doesn't matter if one of the cast nearly knocks the cymbal of the musicians flying, perhaps it would have been even better if they had, this is anachic fun at its very b…