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 Balm in Gilead, University of Northampton BA Acting (Creative Acting) at Maidwell Hall, Northampton

Watching the production of Balm in Gilead sees my entering the fifth year of following the University of Northampton acting students, and what theatre they have provided over the years!

Balm in Gilead is no less intriguing than anything that has gone before, written in 1965 by Lanford Wilson, you might think this would be a dated item for the young students to be performing, however, nothing could be further from the truth. Set in a cafe (transposed to England from its original American setting), it sees the lives of addicts, homeless and sex workers converge into a mixture of good but mostly bad moments.
My first time in the Maidwell Hall saw an encounter with a brilliantly realised community full of the world of the cafe and the surrounding homes, cardboard boxes and dishevelled beds. As we enter the characters of this world begin living alongside us, addressing us, begging us for money, pushing shopping trolleys around offering off the cuff exchanges with the audience and confronti…

Review of This Evil Thing at Royal & Derngate (Royal), Northampton

This Evil Thing written and performed by Michael Mears isn't my first encounter with a play about conscientious objectors, however, it absolutely is the most detailed in its explanation of the subject. A clear and absolute labour of love from Michael Mears, and an obviously very personal thing for him, it leaves the audience pretty much in its grip for the whole of its 80 minutes.

Almost uniquely, our performer Michael Mears is in the theatre stalls upon entry, observing the arrival of the audience and indeed exchanging conversation at times. It's fascinating to see a performer not only there, but seemingly so relaxed pre-show and as he bounds on the stage at show start, this little nugget proves intriguing in itself.

Michael Mears is a captivating presence on stage, as previously experienced on the same stage in A Tale Of Two Cities and The Herbal Bed, therefore it comes as little surprise that he has a confident ability to make a one-man show work, and so well. With the use …

Review of Blood Brothers at Royal & Derngate (Derngate), Northampton

A theatre in the east midlands, a thousand people stand applauding and cheering towards a stage where fourteen people stand. There on the stage, they bow, and bow, an inordinate number of times. They depart after a time and the lights come up over the capacity audience.

So did you hear the story of the Blood Brothers show, how people flocked and came to see them play?
Did you never hear about how we came to be, standing applauding the brightly lit stage this November day?
Come judge for yourselves how this night did come to be.

Blood Brothers was a significant show for me back in 2014, being the first musical that I saw live. Hiding up in the upper circle of the Derngate back then, not really sure what to expect, it was it turned out perhaps the perfect show to graduate me from play to musical that I could choose as Willy Russell's gritty and solid story is as confident as a straight play that perhaps any musical is. So strong is the story of the Johnstone's twins, that it liv…