"Can Play? Will Play? Yes!"
by Chris Bearne for remotegoat on 09/03/17

Three stars and a pun on a Dario Fo title, an appropriate start to a write-up for "One was Nude and One Wore Tails" at the Hen & Chickens, running until 18 March? I think so, certainly I think the audience on the opening night - to a man - shared my enthusiasm for a further dose of the curiously acquired taste for Fo. Farce, commedia, mordant political and social satire, a touch of Brecht, an echo of Beckett, a hint of Keystone Cops... What's not to like? And what's only to be got in the confines of a (preferably very small and somewhat grotty) theatre? There, all this stuff works, if it's given a chance to breathe.

The (suitably Fo-ian, invertedly unpretentiously named) Theatre of Heaven and Hell certainly does that, give it a chance to breathe, that is, (albeit somewhat fetid air). And you do that by never knowingly under-delivering this stuff, which is very different from overplaying it, I think. If you want to know what that means, go along and see for yourselves.

I wish I had a collective noun for roadsweepers, it would be so useful right now (one even begins to slip into Fo-ian thinking after exposure to even a little of his stuff). Whatever. This Sanitation of Sweepers (yes!) is a delight. The more straitened the circumstances, the richer their delivery of the goods, it seems, totally in keeping with the "everything is nothing, you are nothing, therefore you are god" homely, back-alley theme of the piece ... From the opening number to the last honk of the klaxon (you had to be there), this is a bit of a master class in committed acting. It's hard to choose between the talent on display, from Nicholas Bright's Tiggerish, bouncing, wide-eyed trash operative to Brian Eastty's cares-of-the-world-worn guardian of the streets, to Elena Clements' lady-of-the-night-who-takes-no-prisoner, engagingly realised, to Darren Ruston's compelling (no kidding, he really IS compelling) Bin Man to the zany bicycling Toff of Jake Francis. And I have to give special credit to set design and stage management. The hours of TLC lavished on the meticulous laying-out of the props before every single performance can only be imagined.

Seriously, though, folks, this is a fine and dedicated troupe working with the one of the quirkiest geniusus of the 20th Century, and they're well worth seeing ...

Other recent reviews by Chris Bearne
Road
Before again? Somehow a somehow by Chris Bearne
Orphans
Oh, brother, where art thou? by Chris Bearne
Phaedra
Racine's Phaedra deracinated in Hampstead by Chris Bearne
The Winterling
A Delight for all That by Chris Bearne
Quills
Feathers Flying in the Cockpit by Chris Bearne