Theatre at Baddow
Dad's Army on stage ? I recall the Seventies spin-off, featuring almost all the original cast in a kind of variety bill of songs and sketches, and then of course there was the Leslie Grantham vehicle which revived some of the lost episodes.
TAB's offering is a more straightforward staging of three favourite episodes.
A brilliant opening, with the huge cast singing Mr Hitler and marching into the very hall where the real-life local LDVs drilled seventy years ago. And a moving finale, with everyone singing along to We'll Meet Again, led by chanteuse Mandy Oliver, whose superb solos helped to bridge costume and scene changes.
A company of twenty or more, including a U-Boat crew best described as motley [Liam Mayle their “insolent swine” commander] and a bevy of ladies for “Mum's Army” [Rita Vango outstanding as Mainwaring's Brief Encounter].
These are familiar stories, with lines and characters we've loved for years. Of the principals, Terry Cole captured Mainwaring and his dyspeptic smile to perfection, and in a much smaller role, Chris Piper recreated verger Yeatman with uncanny accuracy.
Elsewhere, the spirit if not the persona of the platoon members was affectionately invoked by, amongst others, Peter Eyre's ga-ga Godfrey, Bob Ryall's eager Jonesy, David Saddington's wild-eyed Frazer and Martin Baker's fresh-faced Pike. Roger Saddington purred through his laid-back “Jack Buchanan” Wilson, and John Mabey brought a cheeky comic energy to the incorrigible spiv Walker.
Inevitably, pace and energy were sometimes sacrificed to scene changes, and the subtle punchlines proved hard to recreate on stage, but nonetheless a very enjoyable homage to one of the best ever British sitcoms.
production photograph: BeccyPphotography