Cheryl Barrett | 17 Jul 2016 14:34pm
ALLO ALLO – C’EST MAGNIFIQUE
I spent a thoroughly enjoyable evening at the Apollo Players production of the ‘Allo Allo’ at the Apollo Theatre, Newport, Isle of Wight. Bringing a TV sitcom to the stage can be a disadvantage as the audience are familiar with the original tv programme and have certain expectations. This was not the case at the Apollo Theatre. It was a brave choice to stage a long running well-known comedy but Director Steve Reading and his well-chosen cast met the challenge and did justice to Jeremy Lloyd and David Croft’s script. Although not a farce in the true sense of the word Director Steve Reading ensured the farcical elements were slick.
Drew Adcock was outstanding as café owner Rene. He masterly controlled the stage and totally won over the audience with his excellent comic timing and clever use of innuendo. Glenys Williams was hilarious as Rene’s wife Edith, from the bread rolls in her hair to the outrageously out of tune singing during her cabaret. Their timing and comic reactions in the bedroom scene was a masterclass in comedy. Another pairing who complimented each other beautifully was Pete Harris as Herr Flick, who captured the coldness of the Gestapo perfectly but gave us plenty of laughter in his scenes with his devoted secretary Helga, a lovely portrayal by Helen Reading who was resplendent in stockings and mousetrap suspender belt.
Officer Crabtree is a wonderful character and was well-played by John Abraham whose mispronunciations were anticipated and enjoyed by the audience. The hilarious scene where Crabtree is caught trousers down with Rene crouched in front of him was hilarious and Lieutenant Gruber’s reaction priceless. The scenes with Rene (Drew Adcock) and Lieutenant Gruber (Dave Newton) were very funny as both actors facial expressions were a joy to watch, and Newton’s confident performance had Gruber’s mannerism’s down to a T.
Listen very carefully I shall say ziss only once, Maria Wilkinson’s portrayal of Michelle from the resistance was excellent, especially as she had many costume changes as a lady of the night and a nun – hilarious exchanges between Michelle and Rene. The waitresses Yvette and Mimi, (Joanna Jenner and Esther Poucher) turned in fine performances. Yvette, seductively whispering “Oh Rene” and pint-sized Mimi’s aggressive manner towards the Germans was appreciated by the audience, as was their participation in Madame Edith’s cabaret.
All the characters were very well portrayed. I enjoyed the scenes with German officer Von Stromm (Ian Moth) and Italian Captain Bertorelli (Jack Tutt) who had a wonderfully over the top Italian accent and wonderful facial expressions when he tried to seduce Helga in the cinema – whadda mistake-a to make-a. I’d only ever seen Apollo newcomer Reuben Loake in a frock as an uproarious panto Dame before, so it was good to see him give a commanding performance as General Von Schmelling complete with menacing eyepatch. Danny Carmichael gave us an eccentric doddery old Frenchman as Le Clerc complete with funny walk and cockatoo. The British airmen (Lewis Wheeler and Matt Coles) popped up occasionally, although I was surprised they weren’t dressed as airmen – maybe Mimi was using the flying ‘elmets…
The cast acted well in their different characters and maintained their various French & German accents throughout – diction was good, although a couple of times it was difficult to hear lines spoken upstage. Nevertheless, with full houses every performance the cast delighted the audiences, even mingling with them during the interval and before the show. The front of house and bar staff got in on the act as well and the theatre had a distinct continental flavour as people dressed as French peasants and German officers. I hope the bar gallery will have a painting of the fallen Madonna with the big boobies adorning its walls in commemoration of this fine production.
The Apollo set building team excelled themselves again and gave us a basic café set with a revolve for Rene’s back room and Gestapo offices. The double bed was cleverly pulled out from the back wall. Well done to the stage crew and Rene’s customers for the slick scene changes which helped to maintain the pace. Clever lighting and sound also enhanced the production. The Apollo costume team excelled themselves again – costumes, wigs and ‘viglet’ could not be faulted. The period and comedy props worked well.
It is testament to the wonderful acting as well as the popularity of this tv show that all performances were a sell-out. Congratulations to all involved on stage and behind the scenes for a very entertaining show, which left the audiences wanting more.
Photos by Ian Johnston
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- : 16/07/2016