Thursday, November 22, 2012


Chelmsford Theatre Workshop at the Old Court

A final big push for CTW's Blackadder tribute, with its third season devoted to three of the best episodes from the WWI series.
The stage is dotted with military memorabilia; those Lovely War songs on a loop on the soundtrack.
Dean Hempstead's hand-picked cast is on superb form, led by David Chilvers as Cpn Blackadder, and Mark Preston as his downtrodden Pt Baldrick. They've made these roles very much their own – certainly not clones of the television stars.
Rock solid support from the whole company, notably Steve Parr's Melchett, Harry Sabbarton's Darling, and Ruth Cramphorn's "Bob".
And a hugely impressive comedy performance from Bruce Thomas as George, the incurable optimist who has to defend his superior at his Court Martial as well as act the leading lady in the concert party. In the last episode, he realises, touchingly, that he is the last of the Trinity Tiddlers, and just before the dawn attack, sees the waste and the tragedy of war.
We see them all go over the top to their death – impressively staged – as a field of poppies reminds us that theirs was one sacrifice amongst so many.
The pace, attack and timing are exemplary. They need to be, since one insurmountable challenge in staging these sitcoms is that each cross-fade and jump-cut becomes a hiatus as the stage crew shift stuff and we get a glimpse into the Green Room behind the front lines …

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