Blackadder moves along at a 'fast pace with laughs a-plenty'
By Ron Ellis
Blackadder Goes Forth
SDC at The Little Theatre, Southport
SITTING watching this show, although Blackadder was a 1980’s creation, if I closed my eyes I could easily imagine that I was listening to one of those old 50’s and 60’s comedy shows our grandparents listened to, currently resurrected on Radio Four Extra. Programmes like – The Navy Lark, The Men from the Ministry, Much Binding in the Marsh etc.
But humour has developed a lot since those days. Not even The Goon Show comes across as funny as it once did. And so it was with Blackadder. A show belonging to another age, whereby the protagonists sound like caricatures rather than characters, even though the cast here played them to their maximum comic potential.
The bluff Adrian Miles-Roberts was a far better Blackadder than the pompous individual portrayed by Rowan Atkinson; Mike Yates, wearing a moustache resembling a flying eagle, personified the stiff upper lip General Melchett, Rikki Spofforth made a gorgeous George and Andrew Sloman was perfectly cast as the simpering simpleton, Baldrick. Alice Burns was the prettiest Bob I have encountered; a bandaged Steve Pritchard doubled as a Brigadier and Haig; Captain Darling was played by Paul Green and Sian Wooley was the beguiling Nurse Mary.
Directed by Paul Wilkinson, the sketches moved along at a fast pace with the laughs coming a-plenty from the antics onstage.
A highlight of the show was the selection of original music hall tunes in the gaps between the scenes, songs like Murray Johnson’s Pack Up Your Troubles, Hold Your Hand Out You Naughty Boy by Florrie Ford and Cover It Over Quick Jemima by Cockney comedian, Harry Champion.
One of the most notable features of the Blackadder programme was its ability to combine humour with pathos, to get a laugh out of what was a horrendous situation yet not dwelling on the terrible reality of the men’s fate. Therefore, when the crew finally went ‘over the top’, the end came quickly; rapid flashes of gunfire, the curtain came down, the lights came on and almost immediately the cast reappeared for the final bow.
But then…the house lights dimmed again, a screen was lowered and, to a mournful piano backing, we were shown pictures of soldiers who had died in that ‘war to end all wars’ before The Last Post was sounded and the lights came back on to reveal a stunned audience.
Why? Fine for a Remembrance service but quite out of context here and, as patrons exited, there were several ashen-faced pensioners with tear-stained eyes looking as if they’d attended a burial rather than a comedy.
Star rating 6 out of 10. A fun night spoilt by the inappropriate ending.