"Extraordinary evening of simple enjoyment"
by Aline Waites for remotegoat on 20/09/10

It is very unusual for a spoof to get a main award for comedy. This one got the Laurence Olivier Award in 2007 and two Tony awards in 2008 for best comedy. This also makes it the longest running comedy in the West End

I was lucky enough to be invited to the anniversary performance and I have to say that it comes up as fresh and funny as it must have done on that very first performance four years ago. I didn't see it at the time and my knowledge of the story came from early childhood experiences in Children's Hour on the Radio and various film adaptations since - of course the most memorable vision of it is the scene were the two main protagonists are handcuffed together and are forced to stay together in a double room in a Scottish hotel.

This is a minimalised adaptation by Patrick Barlow and the four actors manage to play 130 characters in 100 minutes. Additions to the text include the old jokes of things going wrong. People picking up the telephone before the stage manager rings the bell etc, props not being ready, actors sometimes wearing the wrong hat. All the age old music hall gags which are still funny when they happen within the context of a comedy thriller - certainly not to be taken seriously!

David Bark-Jones plays the handsome terribly British hero Richard Hannay with stiff upper lip and all the other well known cliches of the genre and Dianne Pilkington plays the mysterious Annabella Schmidt who turns into a corpse very early on in the play and is the cause of Hannay's trouble with the constabulary,as well as the somewhat snooty heroine. All the remaining 127 characters are manfully taken in hand by Timothy Speyer and Jeremy Swift. The result is, of course, one of the funniest things to be seen in the West End.

An added bonus to the fourth anniversary was the party held in the green bar after the performance. We were all given facsimiles of old theatre programmes as tickets and were presented with a choice of nineteen thirties hats, gloves and other accessories. The refreshments were as bizarre as the performances. Cucumber sandwiches and dainty fondant cakes along with vodka cocktails.

An extraordinary evening of simple enjoyment with actors who have warmth coming from every pore. For those who haven't yet been to the Cri - I urgently implore you to book your seats for an evening of pure entertainment.

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