Allo Allo

Date 15th April 2022
Society Theatrecraft
Venue The Playhouse, Whitstable
Type of Production Play
Director Linda Russell

Report

Author: Cheryl Marksford

There is comfort in familiarity and something in our British psyche relishes lampooning stereotypes. Indeed many of us find it cathartic and even addictive. As a concept then, "'Allo 'Allo!" could hardly fail. For any society to tackle a play which is so well known from a TV sitcom, they must be pretty confident in its outcome. Theatrecraft generally had every right to be.

There are many characters in this piece and suffice to say all of them were able to contribute to the overall enjoyment of the entire production.

In the lead role of Rene Artois was Errol Flynn who captured this harassed, treble-timing, but essentially decent man to a tee. His performance was the heartbeat of this show and the pacing was ultimately set by him at all times. He grew with confidence in the role as the performance went on and the delivery of his many one-liners became more natural. He worked his socks off throughout and the audience reacted to his every move.

As well as Rene, we all know and love his long suffering and ever hopeful wife Edith Melba Artois. This was in the more than capable hands of Jane Danes who again was able to deliver the goods, none more so than when she sang very off key, it was so bad it was good. Totally believable was her character showing the skills of a very accomplished actress.

As we all know Rene has a couple of love interests unbeknown to his wife, playing vivacious Yvette and small but mighty Mimi were Christina Jones and Chloe Hedger respectively who both brought laughs to the stage each time they entered it. No mean feat by two relative newcomers to the society. Christina had a natural ease about her onstage and is certainly one to watch out for in the future. Chloe came across as a very secure performer who absolutely relished her character. Her accent fluctuated at times and needed to be more secure throughout.

There was a fantastic partnership in Stuart Clements as Herr Otto Flick and Cara Jane Townson as his love interest Helga Geerhart. With her provocative strip and his hilarious antics as a cinema waitress, they both adding greatly to the production. Exuding confidence and charisma by the bucket load, they both totally understood how important it was to be sympathetic to the TV show in their portrayals. They knew exactly how to get a laugh, even when not saying a word!  

Louise Dekker’s interpretation of Resistance member, “I’ll say this only once” ‘Michelle’, encompassed sexual elegance and great diction. Her side-kick Officer Crabtree played by Joe Morgan gave a more understated than expected performance as the audience excitedly waited for every single verbal mistake to exit his mouth. These were delivered accurately and with impeccable comic timing. Chris Perkins as Colonel Von Strohm, Norman Holness as ‘LeClerc, Simon Ledger as Captain Bertorelli, and Gary Armitage as General Von Schmelling all put their stamp on their roles to draw every bit of comedy from this farcical piece of theatre.

 Mention must also be made to Thomas Croucher who played Lt. Herbert Gruber. Although not camp enough in this role to really push the comedy to the max, his facial expressions and mannerisms were really good for a promising young actor in his first role. Quite a challenge!

I think the whole show had been well rehearsed, however the set hindered rather than helped the performers. It felt rather overbearing and cumbersome in places. Sometimes less is more and that would certainly have worked here especially with the amount of different locations required in this production. The costumes were excellent though one or two of the customers did look a little out of place in their attire. Props were of the period and worked well throughout though a real sausage may have made the eating scene a little more convincing. It was an absolute delight to have a real pianist in the café and that added to the atmosphere from the moment you entered the auditorium.

This production was well executed and enjoyable and that was only possible because of every single cast member’s effort, especially after a two year hiatus. Well done to everybody involved.