Blackadder Goes Forth

Date 19th October 2018
Society Harleston Players
Venue Archbishop Sancroft High School
Type of Production Play
Director Dawn Briggs

Report

Author: Terry Rymer

 Well it’s 100 years ago and it still resonates with us as a memory never to be forgotten , but suffice it to say we can also laugh at the satirical interpretations so skilfully crafted by two of our best authors…and indeed the contrasting finale of the piece (or should that be peace!) as the former colleagues if not comrades together remind us of the pathos and futility of war!

 Well here we had it all, with a superb portrayal of the characters we so fondly remember from the TV series…often a problem for a director who wishes to fulfil the expectations of the public who will remember every detail and nuance! The evocative set was really outstanding, and felt real, including minimal but effective revolving scene changes.

 As Captain Edmund Blackadder (Joe Edwards-Gill), we had a near perfect performance of the beleaguered army officer burdened with a disparate band of soldiers of varying ranks, higher and lower…who are destined to make his life shall we say difficult. His was a well considered and balanced interpretation which reflected his moods and foibles to the enth degree… loved his convoluted comparisons, and we shared his frustrations … Especially those illustrated by Pte, S Baldrick (Peter Long).

Now this really is the role we identify with, and without the slightest effort we immediately recognise the persona of one so richly gifted with a myriad of ‘cunning plans’! He sustained both the accent and the unrelenting ambition to help and please throughout ! Ably assisted by the ‘public school’ enthusiasm and totally unadulterated loyalty of Lt. The Hon George Colthurst (Josh Gould) who equally portrayed the extravagant foppish blind faith of the British ‘upper class’. This trio provided all the necessary belief and recognition with their mannerisms and accents to satisfy even the most discerning audiences. Matched and supported as they were by General Sir Anthony Melchett (Graham Fuller), even the affected cough/burp was there! Also described as Driver Parkhurst we had (Sara Curtis) cunningly, cleverly and with a hint of ambiguity, disguised as a boy (called Bob!), with all the clichés of the era that would today be unacceptable! Capt Kevin Darling (George Eddy) the pen pusher who is the foil to Gen. Melchett and gets his ‘reward’ of a trip to ‘The front’! Big mention for the outstanding cameo from Squadron Commander Lord Flashheart (Andy Hallsworth) …and I mean big, as ‘Biggles’…and bolder than ‘Big Foot’, with an ego to match ! Intentionally OTT and worthy of his round of applause! We even had the legendary Baron Von Richtoven (Barry Givens) also as Field Marshall Haig and the caring charms of Nurse Mary (Josie Fuller) as the foil for Flashhearts’ sexual harassment. (wouldn’t get on TV today?) but they made us laugh! (sorry!). Add  a German Lt. Von Gerhardt (Rob Johnson) and you have the complete package to mimic the very best of the series as I remember it…it was all there : Mud for coffee and dandruff for sugar from Baldrick, don’t mention the milk!! Pencils up nose and pants on head from Capt Blackadder, and the schoolboy cliches from Lt George Colthurst. It was laugh a minute, nay thirty seconds if not more! (or less!!). Super fun and pathos as mentioned to end the piece with a noisy and poignant finale to leave a marginally bitter sweet guilt feeling that we had laughed so much…but that’s the British spirit and long may it continue.

RIP lads, and lasses! We will remember you !!