Skip to main content

Review of Flash Festival 2019: Oh Arthur by Framed Ensemble at Looking Glass Theatre, Northampton

At some point, a regular audience member of Flash Festival needs a show that lightens the mood completely, as the trauma of themed issue shows can take its toll no matter how good they are. So, step forward Oh Arthur, a combination of some of the best moments of comedy and setpieces perhaps yet seen on the Flash Festival. I might have to hark back to the exceptional Sell-By-Date in 2014 to find a more consistently funny offering.

Arthur is a layabout, a generally useless creature, bringing nothing to the world. In his wake are the victims of his inability to even attempt life in a good way, so, here is his mother, his girlfriend, his best mate, and others, dealing with him and his horrible behaviour.

So, what's to like about a show with a person with no endearing features. Oddly enough, the superb performance of Simon Roseman and the intricate scripting make him likeable, sort of, in a way we like David Brent, well a little. It makes the unlikeable likeable in a devilish way. Roseman truly is amazing as Arthur, on stage for virtually the whole play, he makes the character his own in every deadpan moment and knowing look to the audience, as this show plays with the audience in a carefully calculated way for ultimate effect.

While Roseman is Arthur, his co-star Tyler Reece is everyone else. Quick changing into everyone from his socially awkward mate, his mother in a crazy giant wig and the red-dressed girlfriend Daisy, Reece perhaps performs the best single comedy performance of my six years at Flash. With exceptional timing, vocals, and mannerisms, you believe every larger than life character. There is almost the most perfect moment of theatre as well when a reveal creates a show-stopping moment, made only possible by the talent of Reece to create such a dramatically different collection of characters.

Oh Arthur at its core does have a serious heart, but it is not really what the show is about. We all know people like Arthur, and while the concept of Therapy with a Push is an interesting one, it is less important than the comedy plundered here, it lets you think a little, but mostly it just makes you laugh. Endlessly.

The team of Roseman and Reece are a force to be reckoned with, perfect working together, creating one of the ultimate Flash shows, and they should most definitely work together again beyond this. Huge performance talent, exemptional writing skills, and they know just what their audience wants. In the top five shows at Flash for me, and I have had the pleasure to see nearly 70 of them now, so, yes, this is very, very good.

Performance viewed: Tuesday 2nd April 2019

The Flash Festival 2019 runs until Sunday 7th April 2019 at venues across the town.
Details here: 
Flash Festival 2019

Popular posts from this blog

Review of Hacktivists by Ben Ockrent performed by R&D Youth Theatre at Royal & Derngate (Underground), Northampton

The National Theatres Connections series of plays had been one of my highlights of my trips to R&D during 2014. Their short and snappy single act style kept them all interesting and never overstaying their welcome. So I was more than ready for my first encounter with one of this years Connections plays ahead of the main week of performances at R&D later in the year. Hacktivists is written by Ben Ockrent, whose slightly wacky but socially relevant play Breeders I had seen at St James Theatre last year. Hacktivists is less surreal, but does have a fair selection of what some people would call odd. Myself of the other hand would very much be home with them. So we are presented with thirteen nerdy "friends" who meet to hack, very much in what is termed the white hat variety. This being for good, as we join them they appear to have done very little more than hacked and created some LED light device. Crashing in to spoil the party however comes Beth (Emma-Ann Cranston)

Review of Shrek (NMTC) at Royal & Derngate (Derngate), Northampton

Three and a half years ago, in a land far far away, in a world very different to the one we are now in, I saw the touring professional production of Shrek The Musical , it was a mixed bag of quality, tilted extremely heavily in favour of one particular character (not the one you might expect) and not firing on all cylinders much of the time. One and a half years after my last visit to the Derngate theatre, I return to see the homegrown Northampton Musical Theatre Company's own take on the very same show. Would they be able to breathe more life into the show than the professionals did in that distant land? It is a bit of a yes and no really. Pretty much all of this is done to the best possible standard, and at times, with being an amateur show you could easily forget, they all have normal day jobs. The show oozes professional quality at times. The set looks magnificent, the costumes (from Molly Limpet's Theatrical Emporium) are superb, and as ever with NMTC, the backstage team c

Review of Theft at the Castle Theatre Studio, Wellingborough

The comedy-thriller Theft by Eric Chappell tells the story of an anniversary celebrating couple returning to the devastation of their home being ransacked in a burglary. However, this ransacking pales in comparison to the ransacking of their lives that then occurs as home truths are revealed. Anyone old enough to remember the works of Theft writer Chappell ( Rising Damp and Only When I Laugh ), could be forgiven for thinking that this 1996 play might feel a little dated for a 2021 audience. However, bar a few references much of their time now (the weaker sex and female priests for instance), Theft still feels comfortable in the 2021 world, where many of us just want both a good evening of theatre and a good bit of fun. With Theft from the highly regarded Wellingborough Technical Players, they get just that. The action starts as we find the man of the house John Miles played by Graham Breeze returning, very angry, to his home. He is a rightfully boisterous character, channelling all th