Reviewed – 15th December 2017
“Blell is an extremely talented actor and made this somewhat confusing farce, a bit more enjoyable to watch.”
Matthew Parker’s hilarious, yet bizarre production of Thark begins with a lot of promise, but it soon becomes apparent that this is not the typical fast-paced farce, that one had hoped for. Poor accents, slow action and strange characters, were just some of the things that left me feeling rather disappointed. Set in the 1920s, Sir Hector Benbow (Mathijs Swarte) secretly intends to take his new lady friend, Cherry, (Isabella Hayward) out for dinner. However, this does not go accordingly to plan as his wife, Lady Benbow, (Charlotte Vassell) arrives home early and he, along with the help of his nephew Ronald, (Robin Blell) are left cleaning up the mess that Hector so foolishly has got himself into.
Just a few minutes into the show, Mathijs Swarte’s accent was very frustrating, as he would flitter between a very southern American accent, to a posh English accent. Robin Blell was by far the star of the show, as his accent was very impressive and he delivered an incredible performance that had great energy, and great charisma. One scene which tickled me the most, was when Ronald desperately tried to get Kitty’s (Natalia Lewis) attention, in hope that she would realise that he truly loves her and not Cherry. Having already presented a bunch of flowers to her and pretended to be choking on a phone wire, Kitty still refuses to listen to Ronald. Interestingly, what made this scene so laugh out loud funny, was Blell’s hilarious one-liners and great timing. Blell is an extremely talented actor and made this somewhat confusing farce, a bit more enjoyable to watch.
Soon after this, several of the characters suddenly began to do a rather random 1920s Charleston dance. Despite the dance being actually very good, it was very confusing and didn’t help move the narrative forward. To make things even more confusing, Act Two focused on ‘Thark,’ (the family home that is thought to be haunted), but ignored almost everything that happened in Act One. This made the whole production feel a bit disjointed as it would have been nice to have seen how the relationship developed between Hector and Lady Bowmen. The trouble is, Matthew Parker’s production was engaging, but it didn’t live up to my expectations, and I often found myself questioning a lot more as opposed to laughing.
What angered me the most was the ending. It finished too soon and didn’t make sense, as there was so much more that needed to be explored. The whole point of theatre is to tell a story and most stories have a beginning, middle and an end, but perhaps the cast and crew were in a rush, as this production had a beginning, middle but no end. Thus making this piece of theatre incomplete.
Overall, Matthew Parker’s production does have the potential to be a fantastic farce, but having a confusing plot and a terrible ending, was extremely frustrating to watch.
Reviewed by Jessica Brewer
Photography by lhphotoshots
is at the Drayton Arms Theatre until 6th January 2018