Sunday, April 02, 2006

See How They Run - Sheffield Lyceum, 01/04

This play is a farce and then some - vicars with their trousers down, inebriated old ladies, slamming doors, scatty blondes, it's all there. As such, comedy is not exactly subtle, and the whole thing did show its age slightly - but that was the only real problem I had with it. (Well, apart from the aforementioned scatty blonde who seemed to just be doing her very best Queenie-from-Blackadder II impression - I kept expecting her to say 'and if you don't play I'll chop off your head...!)

It was not hilariously funny, then, but it was a whole lot of fun, and directed by Douglas Hodge to absolute perfection which, with a fast-moving plot and essentially two hours of pure 'stage business', is exactly what is required. The entrances and exits were all spot-on, all accompanied by a satisfying crash of the door, and a lot of the humour came from stuff that Hodge had inserted himself, rather than it coming straight from the script. For instance, there was a five minute joke involving drinking an invisible glass of brandy, but when I concentrated on the actual words, it was obvious that this brandy could have in fact been real, and the drinking of it was probably not intended to be funny. I know some people have a problem with this sort of thing (especially when it comes to Shakespeare - 'the humour should come from the text!' they cry), but theatre is a collaborative medium, and whatever the director can throw in to get a better production they should go with... in my humble opinion.

The two stand-out performances came from Julie Legrand as Miss. Skillon, who gamely threw herself around the stage, and Jo Stone-Fewings as Lance Corporal Clive Winton who's transformation from brave soldier to nervous wreck and back again was brilliantly manic. All in all then, not exactly cutting edge, but not intended to be, and what it did, it did really well.

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