Wadhurst Dramatic Club
‘Allo ‘Allo by Jeremy Lloyd & David Croft
Wadhurst Commemoration Hall
Thursday 24th May 2018
Director: Russ Kirton
Choreographer: Kaitlyn Johnson
On entry the hall we were in France. During the week outside the Hall there had been a ‘pop up’ French Cafe offering French Onion Soup WHICH created great interest. The Hall was a feast of blue. white and red and the F of H members were sporting stripes and berets – a wonderful atmosphere. The Rue d’Remarques with Cafe Rene was an open set extremely well laid up with bistro tables dressed with tablecloths, hinged flats at each side front to create the larder with its hanging onions, and German HQ office complete with swastika flag, Captain Alberto Bertorelli’s office, and for Helga Geerhart and Herr Otto Flick’s stripping scene perfect! A large painted coffee cup and saucer – at the back of the stage a small staircase and an excellent fire, with flu rising up surrounded by colourful tiles, together with a painted piano looking most realistic. There was a bar fully stocked and giving enough room to hide the English Airmen who popped up and down sporting moustaches and berets. The set designers and construction team to be complimented on such good work, as were the vast number of extraordinary props, like the cockatoo in its cage, blow ups, cigars, the cheeses, map, flags oh so many more – Anneka Bones and Paul Desrosiers plus the assistance from Graham the Barber, you did a grand job – objects all in their place at the correct times which helped of course to keep the action moving with such pace.
Blue, white and red stripes, A5 programme depicting the characters in cartoon form with word balloons ‘Good Moaning’ ‘Velcome to ze Commem Hall’ etc. very funny, NODA logo – contents all very readable, clear and concise. Cast names clear with small black/white head shots.
Typical French accordion music played with action taking place around the Cafe in occupied France during the Second World War. René Artois and wife Edith owners of the Cafe are keeping a priceless portrait of The Fallen Madonna with the Big Boobies hidden in a Knockwurst sausage in the cellar. The Resistance are trying to repatriate the Airmen and a new radio disguised as a cockatoo is to be installed. With sausages, stuffed Edams, dalliances with both two waitresses Yvette and Mimi, ,a non-French speaking French Policeman, a blow-up Hitler and a blow pipe in case the pump fails an over friendly ‘camp’ German Officer Gruber beautifully ‘minced’ by Merlin Beedell and Edith’s lack of singing talent and much innuendo all this is certainly a recipe of hilarity which was produced at speed and hilarity, all keeping René juggling.
Scene changes had been rehearsed until really slick – in blackouts too. The large cast, including some talented newcomers, was headed by René Artois congenially played by Nick Jeal, with asides to the audience – telling us the plans etc., supported magnificently with her hair neatly rolled was Jan Lyman as Edith. Loved the bedroom scene with painted headboard and the two standing up holding up the duvet – truly funny. Her highlight for me was a memorable ‘lady in red’ cabaret act, wafting a feather fan, superbly loud and sublimely out of tune, backed by Xan Kite as a sexy Yvette and Amanda Dann comical Mimi. Rose Andrew as Michelle Dubois the Resistance Leader in her trench coat and beret gave a most amusing ‘Listen very carefully, I shall say this only once’.
Russ, together with Asst. Marianne Johnson with Kaitlyn devising the choreography directed a disciplined group, well-spaced sensible use of stage, fast exits and entrances. Dot also dressed her beret, sitting at the front following on the book had a relatively quiet night. Rachel Montague-Ebbs mastered a splendid Italian accent which she kept going throughout most convincingly and looked rather splendid in tight pants and high boots a very heavily medalled jacket and what a grand feather helmet. Not an easy task taking on a male role. The pairing of Tom Court as stiff legged, violin fiddling, Herr Flick and Holly Sturman with her smart uniform and hair plaited Helga were excellent together. I loved the Tango and the stripping scenes. Really well choreographed and timed. Michael Reeves made for a splendid Officer Crabtree – great accent and slowed his speech so each word was spoken with great clarity – not easy when you are mispronouncing words like ‘moaning’ for morning, ‘pimp’ up not pump up Hitler etc. A professional job from the delightful cameo roles and all the unseen heroes too, including the wonderful costumiers – uniforms that fitted so well, hair styling excellent for the 40’s, and what a toupee for James Edwards so well managed whilst playing Col. Kurt Von Strohm. The technical side as usual was spot on with John Bush and Bill Johnson at the controls, as was the slick crew under SM Lisa Hart. To all I’ve not mentioned by name – thank you for a most enjoyable evening’s entertainment.
A précis of this Review will be posted on the NODA website shortly.
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