Paul Johnson | 16 Nov 2013 11:08am
‘Allo ‘Allo is one of those rare television shows that has seeped into the public consciousness so that it is now part of the fabric of popular culture. We all now know the characters, the long suffering RenÄ—, his adoring nubile waitresses Mimi and Yvette, the evil Herr Flick, poor old Officer Crabtree having trouble with his vowels and perhaps most famous of all, Michelle of the Resistance – “So listen very carefully I shall say this only once …”
Now it is usual for operatic companies to revisit a musical production every so many years but highly unusual for a dramatic society to stage the same play twice in as few as eight years, their last production of ‘Allo ‘Allo being staged in 2006! So what was it about this script that Grantham Dramatic Society (GDS) could not resist? Well it has lots of outrageous characters for the cast to get to grips with, the title alone has the ability to put bums (more of bums later!) on seats and of course the audience love it because it is cleverly written and very, very funny. So how was it in performance?
GDS can be very proud of their efforts as they provided the packed and partisan audience with a fantastic evening of entertainment. One of the many joys of live theatre is that every night is subtly different and the audience I was part of had a member with a very distinctive laugh!! Not only that, she would anticipate the jokes and merely Officer Crabtree making an entrance would be enough to set her off. She posed a special challenge for the cast but undoubtedly added to the fun that was had by all
For all of its iconic characters and light and fluffy feel be in no doubt this play poses many challenges to the company. There is a cast of twenty-one, many requiring multiple costumes, the action tales place in no less than eight locations and demands some of the most bizarre items ever to make their way onto a props table, an inflatable Hitler to mention just one. So hats off to all of the backstage team for a difficult job accomplished to a high standard.
There were several stand out performances on stage. Tony Lane (RenÄ—) orchestrated the apparent chaos well, Briony Sparrow (Mimi) and Jo Toomey (Yvette) had all the flirtatious sex-appeal you could wish for and Mark Brown (Officer Crabtree) carried off the part with aplimb.
Paul Meakin (Herr Flick) gave a particularly fine performance. I am not sure how difficult it is to maintain that stiff-legged gait throughout the evening but he did it very well and his character was brought to life by fantastic use of his eyes. Now sometimes character and costume come together to create something special and Paul as an usherette in the cinema scene was comedy gold. As he made his exit from the cinema and paused briefly to scratch his bare bum he sent the entire audience into paroxysms of laughter. Most definitely the champagne moment of the evening.
Pride of place goes to Steve Sale (Captain Bertorelli) who gave an excellent performance with great energy and stage presence. A highly defined characterisation, delightful accent combined with good diction and superb timing added up to a contribution that he should be very proud of.
If this were a professional production what would it have had more of? Well, pace and energy. In particular there were about ten scene changes and these seemed to be handled quite quickly by the crew and then it took an age for the lights to come back up. So noticeable was it that I started counting and once it was as long as ten seconds after the stage was set before we had the lights back.
Now the cast were quite solid with the dialogue but sometimes the stage business and interacting with the set and props caused some hesitancy. It was as if the cast could have dome with having the props etc earlier in the rehearsal process. Finally and most importantly whenever you are onstage the audience are watching so at all times maintain your character, maintain your focus and do whatever that it is you are doing do it with purpose.
Not to end of a negative this was a really good production of a brilliantly funny play and provided your audience with an evening of entertainment which will go a long way to selling your next production whatever it may be.
- : admin
- : 13/11/2013