Posts Tagged ‘Warehouse Theatre Croydon’

This is the ninth annual musical play based on BBC Radio’s 1940s Dick Barton character that’s been staged at the Warehouse Theatre in Croydon. You’d have thought the formula would have run its course by now. It’s only the second one I’ve seen, but it was better than the first, so maybe not.

It’s a silly plot with dreadful puns and OK tunes, but somehow it does add up to a fun couple of hours. This is as much to do with the performers – six actors playing a lot more than six parts – as the writing and staging. Ryan Gibb is authentic as the BBC announcer, Matt Bannister captures the 40’s well as Dick, Ben Tolley is a good loyal sidekick and I very much liked Jonathan Busby’s kilted Jock.  Annabelle Brown did sterling work playing all the female roles – except the housekeeper (an excellent Robert Maskell, who also gave us a camp Red Indian chief, amongst others).

This talented cast also double up as the band (I like the way they acknowledge the band at the curtain call!). In the songs, they’ve sneaked in a few references to (amongst others) I Am What I Am from La Cage Aux Folles and a number from Grease in an otherwise original score.

I’m not sure I could go every year, but it was a lot of fun and I don’t regret checking it out once more.

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Well, the Edinburgh buzz was right again. I missed this during the fringe so followed my instincts (and whatsonstage.com’s recommendation) and headed to Croydon Warehouse Theatre (Croydon? well, it’s only 20 mins away!) and boy am I glad I did.

I can’t remember the last time I saw something so inventive. This young company zip through Ovid’s tales using every theatrical trick in the book from mime to puppetry to projections with great use of  songs and music by Lucy Egger. It took me a short while to get into it (I think it would have been a good idea to remind myself of the stories in advance) but when it gets hold of you it never let’s go.

There’s a simplicity to much of the staging, but that takes nothing away from the creativity of Peter Bramley’s direction and design. The Second World War setting is inspired, as is the use of screens for all sorts of purposes including scene changes. The props have a charming home-made feel. The seven performers are so good they all deserve a mention – Jonathan Davenport, Jo Dockery, Mabel Jones, Joseph Mann, Alex Parker, Hannah Pierce and Eloise Secker!

I think they should drop the unnecessary interval, which might improve the bar profits but hinders the flow a little, and maybe take a look at the ending to see if  they could make it less abrupt. Otherwise, a treat which reminded me of the first time I saw Kneehigh (I mean the excitement not similarity) and I can’t wait to see Pants on Fire (what a great name for a theatre company!) again.

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