Review of The Strange Tale of Charlie Chaplin and Stan Laurel at Royal & Derngate (Royal), Northampton
This show is based on the very real tale of the 1910 ship heading course for New York, which aboard were Charlie Chaplin and Stan Laurel, unknown, but part of Fred Karno’s music hall troupe, and destined for different, but very major futures.
Told by an Idiot's production with Theatre Royal Plymouth (and Royal & Derngate and Unity Theatre) breaks down the tale of the voyage of the SS Cairnrona with intriguingly created flashbacks of the life, generally of Charlie Chaplin. Therefore along the course of the voyage, we see Laurel's moment as understudy to Chaplin, the birth of Chaplin (brilliantly realised) and his dad, a hilarious moment played by Nick Haverson. It all creates a magnificent potpourri of happenings, presented virtually all in the classic silent film style.
Amalia Vitale is very much the essence of Chaplin, perfecting his walk and cane swivelling technics and through virtually no dialogue captivates and entrances as the tale unfolds. Jerone Marsh-Reid equally gets the mannerisms of the legend that is Stan Laurel, representing his dumb look brilliantly. He also has an excellent turn as well as the Bell Boy.
Completing the quartet of performers is Sara Alexander who does very briefly feature as Charlie's mother, but mainly shows quite brilliant skill performing Zoe Rahman's perfectly judged score on the piano.
The Strange Tale of Charlie Chaplin and Stan Laurel is a gorgeous piece of theatre, stunningly performed with incredible physicality from the performers. Paul Hunter's writing and direction are pinpoint in its desire to maintain period, yet it offers something new and refreshing for the stage and is a clear love letter to a classic time of the film industry.
Warm, loving, funny and fresh.
Performance reviewed: Wednesday 11th March 2020 at the Royal & Derngate (Royal), Northampton.
The Strange Tale of Charlie Chaplin and Stan Laurel runs at Royal & Derngate until Saturday 21st March 2020
Photos: Manuel Harlan