Review: Dad’s Army by the Harlow Theatre Company

Lifestyle / Thu 4th Jun 2015 at 10:06am

Dads ArmyTHIS was alway going to be a tricky one. Dad’s Army is more than a sit-com, it is a natural treasure with characters and the actor’s portraying them, embedded in the public’s hearts and minds.

So, in the early part of the performance, in front of a packed first night audience at the Victoria Hall Theatre, this reviewer was getting that sinking feeling as each actor, good as they were, were just, different from the originals.

The person, who did stand out early on, was Alan Grant’s performance as the louche Sgt Wilson. Alan had the mannerisms down to a tee: “Is that wise?” “Would you kindly fall in?” were delights to behold.

But as the play continued (and it was three episodes and a finale), you started to warm to the characters as each actor really made their part their own.

Paul Stephenson was a fine Capt.Mainwaring and he really grew into the role. Again, not only did he look like the Capt. but really brought all the bumptiousness of the man. Although his finest moment was, perhaps, the third act, where the Capt indulges in a brief flirtation with a Fiona Grey. It is a very sad scene, which exposes Capt Mainwaring as a man living an unfulfilled life. But both Paul and the Alyssa Upton produced a brilliant couple of scenes.

The rest of the troupe produced a number of admirable performances with Jake Hannam’s Pike wonderfully callow and Mitchell Rous had perfected all of Walker’s mannerisms as the cockney spiv, especialy the way he drew on a cigarette.

Two of the harder challenges were Godfrey and Frazer. Steve Hannam produced a wonderfully doddery Godfrey although again, it was the scene that explains his rile in The Great War that is very touching. However, Steve’s finest role is as the U-Boat commander, where he was wonderfully teutonic.

Frazer is a very difficult role but Tony Saxby really brought out the miserly, miserable undertaker. Good to see the word “Sonsie” getting an airing.

There were a number of actors who had lines that just brought a smile to your face. The Town Clerk, Paul Johnson’s stress on the word “Fleshings”; the wonderful little cameo by the tea girl played by Jessica Foster; The Verger’s “Brummie” accent as played by Kendal Lavery; the troupe’s bet noire, Mr Hodges played by Dave Wright and another of the tea room ladies played by Lisa Gould.

The episodes were introduced by a wonderfully crimson and curvaceous Miss Edith Parish played by Andrea Thorpe. In many ways, the ladies were at an advantage as they were not playing “national treasures”. And we hope she won’t take this as an insult but Sarah Wiggins was Mrs Fox as indeed was Kirsty Page as Mrs Pike.

The more we reflect on the performance, the more we liked it. Yes, we did think it was probably twenty minutes too long but the audience seemed to be happy (but not with the man who coughed throughout the performance).

We don’t know if there are tickets left so check with the Box Office.

Thanks. You have been reading………

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