and the Case of the Pink Belle
The College Players at Brentwood Theatre
Holy potato skins ! It's the fourth in the Roxy Krasner franchise, bringing its unique brand of surreal silliness to Brentwood Theatre.
It's well over three years since their last outing, but all the familiar elements are in place: the trademark half-moon window, with excellent projections, including an introductory montage to set the scene.
The characters, too – Darren Matthews' fast-talking “Smokey” Joe Pirelli, and his faithful Girl Friday Roxy [Lindsay Hollingsworth]. They almost get to tie the knot this time, thwarted at the last moment by Victor the scammer vicar, played by William Wells, who also gets to hone his German accent as the character with the cleverest moniker – Herr Helmut Mullerlicht.
The Salmon Sisters are back, too – inimitably played by June Fitzgerald and Elaine Laight. This time we find them bravely piloting a bomber and gamely posing as strippers. The crude, lewd Limelight Larry [Paul Sparrowham on fearless form] and the equally dim English Gwen [Hannah James] are central to the plot, and cosmopolitan colour is added by Claire Hilder, Romy Brooks and Elliott Porte.
Bob O'Brien is the NYPD's finest, especially hilarious when carried insensible from the stag party …
An A-list cast, with award-winning actors like Gary Ball lucky to get a chance to walk on and shift scenery.
No chance of spoilers here, since the comically convoluted plot defies summary. The Pink Belle of the title is both a plane and a chanteuse, there are model aircraft, dinosaurs, dances both tap and fan, cherrystones – balls to Hamburg – and a humanitarian, vegetarian Sagittarian. But no giraffe, librarian, meteorologist, or cartographer. Close, but no cigar. Actually, there is a cigar, clutched in Larry's sweaty fist.
Hard not to be caught up in the daft twists and turns of this tale of battleships and flying fortresses. A sterner critic might have wished for a firmer hand, perhaps wielding a pair of scissors. Some of the gags were laboured, sometimes the manic pace was allowed to flag.
But an impressive, original comedy, produced and directed for the College Players by Nick Wilkes.
Will there be a fifth wheel on this tireless trilogy ? Roxy seems to think so; close encounters in the Nevada desert are promised in The Case of the Alien Invasion. Watch this space ...