Blackadder, The Snake Bites Back

Date 11th July 2018
Society Berwick-upon-Tweed Amateur Operatic Society
Venue The Guild Hall. Berwick-on-Tweed
Type of Production Play
Director Jim Herbert


Author: Kathryn Curry

Once again T.V. scripts were successfully adapted for stage by Mark Fleeson who also wrote the song lyrics for the strumpets. Mark used 3 scripts Money, Head and Potato to bring the story to life of Blackadder being visited by the Bishop of Bath and Wells who demanded repayment of £1000 by Evensong on Sunday.  The antics Blackadder went through to try and raise the money and stay away from the Bishop were hilarious. Blackadder travelled to the Tower of London having been told that being Lord High Executioner pays well.  Act two began with a party in London City where everyone was excited about the imminent arrival of Sir Walter Raleigh.  Blackadder decided to try and skip town to avoid the Bishop by setting sail that day. As he travelled to and from court Queenie and Melchett played jokes on him, and in desperation he visited the docks in an attempt to sell his house.  With tremendous acting from the cast and much hilarity; by the end, as always the case, Blackadder came out on top as the ‘Snake Bit Back’.

The venue of the show provided a splendid backdrop for Blackadder with it façade of Pictures and Chandeliers though was not without its challenges.  Because of the nature of the performing area with no raked area for audience it was decided to present this play in the round.  Acting in the round was a first for Berwick Opera and presented huge challenges which were admirably overcome by the cast to make sure the audience were all part of the action. Working in the round was also very well received by the audience who were at tables with refreshments suitably served by the Strumpets. Props and lighting were simple and very effective; combined with wonderful costumes created by Jennifer Wood and Jodie Robson this production was bound for success.

Throughout the whole play there was an abundance inclusion of diverse characters all suitably attired and giving super performances whether in leading or minor parts….too many to mention individually.  ‘Blackadder’ (Bill Shardlow) was tremendous and it was inspired acting.  ‘Queenie’  (Nicola Stebbing) was undoubtedly a ‘Queenie’ every bit as good as the original in the T.V. series, she was just perfect in her portrayal of this bizarre character. Stuart Faed as ‘Lord Percy’ was hilarious, his timing, voice projection and portrayal of the character were amazing and he commanded the part with excellent stage presence. ‘Baldrick’ (Slink Jadranko) gave a stalwart performance as the dippy somewhat simple aid to Blackadder. He portrayed the character with all the little asides we remember from the series showing us his depth of acting skills.  Another impressive performance was Jack Crawford’s portrayal of ‘Sir Walter Raleigh’.  However for me the little cameo roles of ‘Ploppy the Gaoler’ (Andrew Knight) and ‘Ploppy the Cook’  (Dilys Guthrie) just about stole the show. They were so funny and in total character and worked so well together….. a perfect match. We were treated to even more excellent characterisation from them when they reappeared as Mrs. Pants and Mr. Pants.  With the addition of ‘Strumpets’ and ‘Strumps’ keeping the action going with their singing and linking scenes together effective continuity was ensured throughout the play.

A wonderful evening of entertainment in what was obviously a team effort of hard work to achieve this success in the round. Here’s to the 3rd Blackadder!  Hopefully with ‘Wise Woman’ !