Allo Allo

Date 15th September 2023
Society Dodleston Youth Players
Venue Dodelston Village Hall
Type of Production Farce
Director Sue Ramsey
Sound Richard Kitchin
Lighting Richard Hulmston
Producer Sue Ramsey
Written By Jeremy LLoyd & David Croft

Report

Author: Joanne Rymer

‘Allo ‘Allo!

Dodleston Players

15/9/23

 

Read this very carefully, I shall write this only once!  (Sorry I could not resist)

The Dodleston Players gave us their now famous warm and friendly welcome to their latest production Allo Allo, based on the original script by Jeremy Lloyd & David Croft.

`Allo Allo’ has to be one of the most successful and popular of the BBC`s traditional comedy sit-com running from 1984 – 1992, audience expectations are high to see the familiar characters portrayed on stage. Have no fear the knockwurst sausage, the painting of the Fallen Madonna with the Big Boobies, the ridiculous British airmen, the villain Herr Flick of the Gestapo, the camp Lieutenant Gruber and, of course, Rene Artois his wife Edith and all at Café Artois.

As the recognisable theme tune begins, we find ourselves in Café Artois, we are comfortably seated cabaret style with fully set tables.  Rene Artois played by Gorden Robertson addresses the 4th wall welcoming us in to his café in Nouvion in German occupied France during the Second World War. He informs the audience of his unique predicament, that is being caught between the Resistance, the Nazis and the advances of Lt Gruber. Not to forget the demands of his long-suffering wife Edith, her deaf mother Fanny La Fan and his lovers, waitresses Mimi and Yvette.

Director Sue Ramsey assembled a very strong talented cast, plus an enthusiastic production team. Roger Higginson & Gorden Peterson designed an attractive and versatile set that serves as everything from a cafe interior to Rene and Edith’s bedroom. Scenic artist Lorraine Black, a special mention to Karen Welsh for the prop Cockatoo.  Sound Richard Kitchen, Lighting Richard Hulmston great costumes Elaine Porter, officer uniforms supplied by Khaki Devil Ltd.  A great team effort.

The hall dressed as Rene’s café was an inspiration, we were served French bread, pate and cheese and biscuits at the interval by no other than Flying Officers Fairfax & Carstairs the British Airman played by Tim Preston & Andrew Ramsey, disguised as waitresses by Edith to fool the Germans. This was enthusiastically received by the appreciative audience as you can imagine. Totally delightful.

Congratulations to Gorden Robertson for his utterly engaging portrayal of the droll, enigmatic lothario René, totally at home onstage the audience loved him. Special mention to Steven Hughes as Officer Crabtree, a British undercover agent posing as a French police officer, who couldn’t speak French to save his life his ‘good moaning’ is the most memorable of many catchphrases in this show, a fine performance. Loved that Rene sort Yvette, played by Karen Walsh to assist in translating the Englishman’s appalling French, she was ably assisted by Mimi played by Joanne Robertson. What fun the cast had with this, especially when lines were shall we say imaginative, the audience loved the comic spontaneity!  

As we all know ‘Allo Allo’, is a little bit naughty and always hilarious, the audience were with the cast from get go, this production is a real audience treat.

One of the funniest scenes involves René and his ‘secret radio’ (a stuffed cockatoo) sending mixed messages to the infatuated camp Lt. Gruber brilliantly played by Glenn Mullholland. A Dodleston favourite Mike Dix played the creepy and sinister Herr Flick to perfection, and his violin bow erection was magic, hilarious, great comic timing between him and the flirtatious Helga played by Jenny Bowle well done.

Then we have Denise Ward, ‘It is I Leclerc’ (master of disguise!) a character historically played by a male, she was splendid, well done it was spot on. Enthusiastic performances from, toupee wearing Colonel Von Strohm played by Richard Lloyd, the Captain Alberto Bertorelli, played by Craig Pollard, loved the flirting with Helga at the cinema so funny, well done. The French resistance Michelle & Denise played by Jennifer Barnett & Gabrielle Phillips, we all know the catchphrase ‘psst I shall say this only once’ secret instructions whispered by Michelle to Rene, loved her red gowned femme fatal.

Every cafe needs a piano player, Cafe Artois had Mary Brierly, accompanying a not so tuneful Edith cabaret was a scream. Mary Brierly and Marian Murdoch reading her paper, permanently placed at the café, where a prompt was often needed was a very clever move.

On arrival in the hall as the audience took their seats, the radio voice Richard Kitchin announced a change in the cast at 24 hours’ notice.  Due to illness Sue Ramsey would now be reading Edith Artois, and Marion Murdoch will be Fanny La Fan.

To say that these two actresses did an amazing job is a colossal understatement. Marion as Fanny La Fan, Ediths hard of hearing mother outrageously flirts with the British airman, while rebuking the German officers was a scream.

Sue Ramsey was a tour de force as Rene’s wife desperate for the spark to return to her passion free marriage. Gorden and Sue have a fabulous rapport, the bedroom scene with the two of them was superb. Loved the tango, beautifully performed by Edith and Captain Bertorelli, a show highlight for me. What a fabulous return to the stage Sue Ramsey, congratulations it was a triumph.

This was a lovely production and any comedy is best judged by the reaction of the audience, and tonight there was laughter throughout and applause following each scene. This was a night of fun and laughs, silly words, and shared delight, a community celebrating its local theatre society, an absolute joy.

See you In February.

Joanne Rymer

District 4

NODA