Cream Tea & Incest
Reviewed – 12th April 2018
“a well written piece of fast moving satire “
Walking into the Hope Theatre I was a little unsettled about the content of the play I was coming to see. The title of ‘Cream Tea and Incest’ is slightly misleading as it is about neither. What it is though, is a very funny and well crafted production presented by four exceptionally talented actors. Written by and featuring Benjamin Alborough, the play has nods to Jeeves and Wooster in that a rather gormless, but optimistic member of the landed gentry embarks on a series of adventures with his intelligent and loyal valet Jeffrey. Along the way they meet a cast of outrageous characters and experience adventure, murder, romance and some very interesting dancing.
The audience is greeted by seeing Eddie Spangler, (Alborough) respondent in shorts and a barbershop striped jacket, seemingly asleep on a chair that is essentially the main prop on the stage area. Behind him is an interesting wall with artefacts made from corrugated cardboard. It is however, described by Alborough as an effective 2.5 dimensional set. Two of the other characters are within the audience and slowly make themselves known.
The basic story is that Lord Wiggins is set to inherit Rhodesia upon his marriage to the off stage Emily Rhodes but their romance is faltering so Eddie and Jeffrey set out to deal with Wiggins as quickly and violently as possible. Meanwhile the evil Lord Biggins lurks in the shadows with schemes of his own.
The cast of four have clearly worked hard to hone this piece into a sharp and well crafted one. Benjamin Alborough plays Spangler with style; Aidan Cheng is excellent as Wiggins and is also exceptionally funny playing the northern policeman. Edward Spence often steals the stage as the evil Biggins and Eoin McAndrew is the perfect straight man Jeffrey.
This is a fast moving production, driven along by director Benedict Philipp, with a storyline which on occasions did seem a little difficult to follow – but the gags came one after the other to make this a most enjoyable hour at the theatre. Special mention should go to Holly Ellis’ lighting plan that managed to keep up with the requirements of the frenetic pace of the play. The actors seemed to enjoy the play as much as the audience and their hilarious dance routine prompted spontaneous applause. It was brilliantly choreographed by Hector Mitchell Turner and executed to perfection.
The evening had a feel of Edinburgh Fringe about it. In fact the show had a sell out run at the 2017 festival and is booked to return there for a three week run later this year. It is without doubt a well written piece of fast moving satire with perfect comedic timing from an energetic and competent cast. It is a marvellous, though bonkers, anarchic comedy that deserves a sell out run in London.
Reviewed by Steve Sparrow
Photography by Olivia Rose Deane
Cream Tea & Incest
Hope Theatre until 28th April