Allo Allo – Review – Wakefield Theatre Royal
Allo Allo – Review
Wakefield Theatre Royal, October 2017
by Steve Crabtree – @stevecrab
Listen very carefully… I shall say this only once…
One of the TV shows I used to enjoy watching with my parents growing up in the 80s was Allo Allo, the BBC sitcom written by Jeremy Lloyd and David Croft. So, when I heard that my favourite theatre had a stage version of the show on for a five-night run, I had to bring my mum over to see it for a night of laughter and nostalgia.
The Theatre Royal, Wakefield have given us our usual warm and friendly welcome, and we’ve got great seats near the front in the stalls. Then, that ever-recognisable theme tune begins, the curtain rises and we find ourselves in Café Rene, where owner Rene Artois; played by Mark Rogers welcomes us in to his establishment in German occupied France during the Second World War.
I quickly notice that Rogers is a fantastic choice to play the lead role. He’s perfected the accent and the mannerisms of the Rene that we all know from the TV series, and I instantly stop wondering if this is going to be a far-cry from what I used to watch.
Before long, we’re introduced to the other characters: Rene’s wife Madame Edith, waitresses Yvette and Mimi, and Michelle from the French Resistance. They bring memories flooding back, as does the subject of the storyline – the painting ‘The Fallen Madonna With the Big Boobies’ by Van Klomp as it gets its first mention.
A really good storyline is beginning to unfold and the first act is proving to be very funny. The cast from the Wakefield Little Theatre company look to be enjoying themselves, as we are in the audience. Amongst the laughter, the German contingent, Colonel Von Strom and Helga are brought in to the story, along with Herr Flick, Lieutenant Gruber and Italian war hero Captain Bertorelli. “Pis*ing” by the door is Officer Crabtree, the English ‘policeman’ who thinks he can speak French, and you know his regular lines are going to keep falling out of his mouth, to the delight of us watching.
We’re finding out that conspiracy and confusion is going to play a major part of the tale, and we have to close our ears occasionally as Madame Edith, known for her not-too-tuneful voice, belts out the songs in the café, as the Germans place cheese in their ears to drown out the noise!
The show is so enjoyable, and whether people think it’s like the show or not, it’s a production that is worth coming to see. The scenery is really good too, and the swift changes between scenes are keeping the tempo up on this well-paced play. By the end of the first act we’ve met everyone.
The tempo and the humour carries on in to the second half of the show; with Rene having to hide his affair with both of his waitresses, and innuendos are aplenty!
Scott Worsfold’s performance of Lieutenant Gruber, who has the hots for Rene, is outstanding and the reason for a number of whoops of laughter, especially when a talking stuffed parrot causes confusion for Gruber and embarrassment for Rene as he tries to decline the German’s advances without offending him.
A special mention too needs to go out to Dom Callaghan for his hilarious portrayal of Bertorelli, and Scott Colliar for his execution of Herr Flick. Two fantastic performances, but it’s Rogers who really steals the show as Rene, and you almost believe you’re watching the real thing from all those years ago.
It’s been another fantastic evening here in Wakefield, and my mother and I have loved the two hours that have quickly passed by. The cast truly deserve to be playing to a packed house with this production of Allo Allo, and I hope that as the week goes on, more seats will be filled. It’s a show that entertains, and is definitely worth going to see.