"Cleverly poignant, emotional and hilarious"
by Jill Lawrie for remotegoat on 22/01/20

Currently playing at the Minerva Theatre as part of their UK tour is Told by an Idiot’s homage to two comedy giants. Originally co-commissioned by the London International Mime Festival this fictional play captures the two contrasting characters as they embark on their ultimately immensely successful careers.

In 1910 these two unknown comedy artists join Fred Karno’s music hall troupe as they set sail for New York. Charlie is the more experienced of the duo, with Stan as his understudy. They share a cabin for the voyage and then tour North America for two years together. Something Charlie never refers to and yet Stan talks about for the rest of his life!
Paul Hunter writer/director, co-founder and Artistic Director of Told by an Idiot has been involved in all the company’s work so far, and also runs parallel with Taught by an Idiot, a major interactive initiative offering training, workshops, opportunities etc. Their aim is to make story telling accessible to all and treads a fine line between comedy and tragedy.

With a cast of just four hugely talented actors/musicians a vast array of minor characters are covered, mostly by Nick Haverson, who gets great comic mileage from his silent antics.

The minimal multi-level set works well as the cast are constantly on the move up and down ladders, greasy pole, bunks etc. Jerone Marsh-Reid in his primary role plays a masterly Stan Laurel and the extremely agile, energetic Amalia Vitale plays Charlie Chaplin to perfection. Her many facial expressions totally bring her performance to life. They are admirably supported by Sara Alexander who excels as the pianist and as Hannah Chaplin (Charlie’s mother).

It is refreshing to see such raw talent thriving, the predictability of farce and spontaneous physical theatre. Great humorous storytelling that is poignant, emotional and hilarious from this vibrant, energy filled quartet.

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