Reviews of 'Disposing of the Body'    

Reviews of 'Allo Allo' (2012)

Review by Peter Breach, NODA

 

This stage play is based on some of the televised episodes of programmes that David Croft and Jeremy Lloyd produced for BBC television between 1982 – 92 under the same title.

 

The stage version presents a number of challenges for both actors and stage crew since the facilities of camera switching, instant close-ups and film editing are not available. However, the sizeable and appreciative audience was treated to a highly entertaining performance.

 

The main set, which was a wonderful re-creation of the Café Rene’, was a masterpiece of design and construction that provided a superb location for so much of the comic happenings. There were particularly strong performances from Troy Melvin (as Rene’), Joanna Hobbs and Emma Dobbs (as Yvette and Mimi, the waitresses with a love interest in Rene’), Rob Callaby (as Captain Alberto Bertorelli – an Italian as much in love with himself as all the ladies) and the very good pairing of Mark Spelman (as Herr Flick) and Lucy Allen (as Helga).

 

The super-efficient stage crew coped extremely well with the several required set changes thereby ensuring that a good pace was maintained throughout. Overall this was undoubtedly a treat for the many fans of this much loved comedy series.

Review by Dean Barnshaw, audience member

 

‘Now listen very carefully, I shall say zis only once’...I know a bit predictable when writing a review about ‘Allo ‘Allo, but in a show renowned for its cliché’s and double entendres it really is the only place to start…and ‘by jove’ this production did not disappoint. Now I’ve watched this particular group of players in their last three presentations and what always comes across without doubt, is their enjoyment for putting on a good show. There seems to be a real togetherness amongst this group and as a member of the audience you buy into that very quickly.

 

You know what you’re going to get when the show is written by the Kings of British sitcom Jeremy Lloyd and David Croft. Each sentence crafted and every ounce of funniness squeezed out of every scene with a classic plot line evolving around everyone conniving to get their hands on the painting of ‘The Fallen Madonna with Boobies’ by Van Klomp. You just know it’s all going to end up in disaster when the café is frequented by a whole menagerie of Adolf Hitler imitations and there’s a microphone stuck in a parrot’s rear end. Add to that an incompetent Resistance force and two stranded airmen who pop up out of the strangest of places and you have great comedy hilarity.

 

What struck me the most about the night, was how believable every single cast member was, talk about people being born to play a role, this was Spalding in overdrive.  From the first minute of the show opening I was totally immersed. I could have been sat at home watching re-runs on the digital channel, but I wasn’t, I was sat in Row F chomping on my boiled sweets being thoroughly entertained. From the idiosyncrasies of each the characters personalities, to the accents, the uniforms and sexual innuendos, to the lay-out of Rene’s café (mention to the set designer..brilliant), this lot nailed it to a tea. It’s difficult to pick out anyone character for special praise as everyone played their role so ably, so out of fairness I’ll try and mention the whole cast.

 

The main protagonist René (Troy Melvin) whom the storyline flows through, carried this off with great panache, his dry sense of wit and confident manner enabled the rest of the cast to fit so comfortably around him. I never knew you could have so much fun with a german sausage and a blow up doll. Quite how he and the rest of the cast never fell about in stitches is beyond me. In fact there were a fair number of laugh out loud moments peppering this production, I tried to restrain myself but really couldn’t. However, it’s a pity the rest of the crowd did, they appeared quite reserved on the night and could have contributed quite a bit more to certain moments throughout the show...oh well my only criticism.

 

Edith (Arline Evenden) the bungling wife was played with real zest..she must be good to sing that poorly. Very believable and I can now see why Rene turned to the waitresses for ‘a bit of how’s your father’. A great dynamic between the two portraying some really funny moments in a marriage gone off he boil.

 

Leclerc (George Ogden) was a real gem with a sense for comedy timing and I would have liked to have seen more of him to be honest. He subtly completed each scene he was in and was by far the funniest looking Dictator…a bit of Mel Brooks about him me thinks.

Helga (Lucy Allen), Yvette (Joanna Hobbs), Mimi (Emma Dobbs) and Michelle (Amber Sinclair) all the more saucier in the flesh, played their coquettish supporting roles with real verve and enthusiasm. They were the main reasons why I used to watch the show in the first place and nothing has changed. All three used their feminine qualities to great effect and I loved the facial expressions and eye contact when flirting to the highest degree.

 

Now if there was ever a face to fit Capitano Alberto Bertorelli’s role, it was Rob Callaby’s and I really enjoyed his attempt to play out every last word with an Italian drawl. The Capitano’s smile was infectious and the role brought a real slap stick element to the show.

The austere Herr Flick (Mark Spelman) was played with aplomb and there was never a dull moment when he was on stage. He always left you guessing as to how he was going to woo Helga, but I wouldn’t advise the Tango again. A solid performance that left you wanting more.

The robust Colonel (Nick Fletcher) and the General (Paul Coleman) typified the inefficiencies of the occupying forces going about their daily business during war. You could see that both players were really enjoying themselves on the stage and their roles brought great context to the show.

 

Officer Crabtree (Kevin Palmer) had some of the best lines on the night and he must have had to really concentrate to deliver such incomprehensible grasp of French with a straight face...well done that man.

My favourite German on the night though was that of Lt Gruber played by Paul Gilbert. He really brought the fruity character to life and his dialogue with the parrot was carried off with star quality. I’m sure I saw him giggling during some of the scenes and why not, it was a great role to play.

Apart from a few first night nerves, this was a well put together production, with a competent cast and an established production crew who knew what they wanted to deliver. I especially liked the flickering light during the cinema scene with the local peasant ladies. Swift set changes and a great soundtrack with some familiar sounds brought a sense of nostalgia to the night. It was like the best bits of all 85 episodes rolled into one evening. Comedy might be their thing for future presentations…it would definitely make me come over to Spalding in the middle of the week again. More of the same please. Now back to my day job…and has anyone seen my knackwurst?

 

PS. I wouldn’t advise buying anything from the ice-cream lady during the cinema scene… it’s enough to put you off your dinner.

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