Tag Archives: Pippa Evans

The Good, The Bad and the Fifty
★★★★

Wilton’s Music Hall

The Good The Bad and the Fifty

The Good The Bad and the Fifty

Wilton’s Music Hall

Reviewed – 15th February 2019

★★★★

 

“The cast is strong, verbally agile and crucially – so, so crucially for a show like this – seem to be having a good time”

 

Improvised comedy can be nerve-shredding. For casts, certainly, but for audiences too. Jokes teeter on the brink of finding their target or falling flat. Repartee must hustle along at a relentless pace. Everything is but seconds away from an awkward pause or a fluffed line. Thank God, then, that the stellar cast of the London Improvathon keep it all on the hilarious side of panic.

The theme for this year is all things Wild West, and the series of character introductions demonstrates immediately what territory we’re in (literally). You’ve got your classic hellfire-preaching pastor and chaste daughter, your gunslinging sheriff, your out-of-towner and your town drunk (the likeable character of Dirk Gundersson, with some laugh-out-loud delivery). On the subject of those character introductions, this cast is so huge that running through each character in this way actually risks an early slackening of pace – and hey, isn’t it cheating to use your improv time for beefy prepared intros?

No matter. Once we’re into the meat of the show, the true improvisation, the fun really begins. The model is slick; an excellent compère/director works alongside a remarkably adaptable pair of musicians and a lighting crew to set up each scene, at which point selected actors are bundled in and, without so much as a ‘howdy pard’ner’, the freestyling begins. Naturally some scenes are stronger than others, and, at least in the first of the 25 two-hour chapters, a sense of a meaningful through narrative is hard to find. But the need for one slips away as we’re lured into the peculiar world of ‘Wilton’s Creek’ one vignette at a time. The cast is strong, verbally agile and crucially – so, so crucially for a show like this – seem to be having a good time.

As is perhaps so often the way with improv, standout moments come when things start to get away from our players. It’s quickly clear that we’re in capable hands, with some actors always displaying a clear mastery over their craft (the character of Colonel Sanders, for example, is uniformly a joy to watch). Feeling secure, the audience enjoy the occasional verbal cul-de-sac confident that it will be turned to humour. The Colonel’s spelling out of ‘perspicacity’, visibly instantly regretted, is a great example of this, as is Pastor John breaking character to address an audience member and warn that God will text him their name.

The night isn’t perfect. It’s rotten luck for the less confident cast members to sit among such an accomplished ensemble, as less than whip-smart performances become all the more obvious. And it was notable to me that, at least in the chapter I saw, this cast of approaching twenty people were all white.

This is a blissfully adroit cast though (one might say perspicacious), and it’s hard to begrudge a moment of the very apparent fun being had on stage. And yee ha! It’s delicious silliness for audiences too.

 

Reviewed by Abi Davies

Photography by Andrew Pugsley

 


The Good The Bad and the Fifty

Wilton’s Music Hall

 

Previously reviewed at this venue:
Songs For Nobodies | ★★★★ | March 2018
A Midsummer Night’s Dream | ★★★½ | June 2018
Sancho – An act of Remembrance | ★★★★★ | June 2018
Twelfth Night | ★★★ | September 2018
Dietrich – Natural Duty | ★★★★ | November 2018
The Box of Delights | ★★★★ | December 2018
Dad’s Army Radio Hour | ★★★★ | January 2019

 

Click here to see more of our latest reviews on thespyinthestalls.com

 

Brexit – 5 Stars

Brexit

Brexit

King’s Head Theatre

Reviewed – 1st November 2018

★★★★★

“a true ‘play for today,’ rooted in current political reality, spiced with delicious humour, razor sharp with insight and sparkling wit”

 

This satirical and hilarious look at the Brexit dilemma, two years on, is superb. It’s 2020 and a newly elected Prime Minister is taking the helm, attempting to steer the country through the convoluted Brexit morass. Nothing has happened since 2018, how will he manage to keep everyone, or even anyone, happy? It’s like a sitcom for the stage, with echos of ‘2012’, and ‘Yes Minister’, but far more biting and to the point. The Prime Minister, Adam Masters, is brilliantly played by Timothy Bentinck, better known for his many tv roles, and for being the voice of David Archer in ‘The Archers.’ His self-important, doubt ridden PM is a fantastic study of a Tory in trouble, trying to balance the different factions of his fractured party, and deliver something. Anything really. And to stay in office for longer than Andrew Bonar Law’s two hundred and eleven days.

There are some brilliant one liners, ‘You may have a triple first in sycophancy and beef wellington but that doesn’t give you the right….’ says Pippa Evans’ Diana Purdy, a ‘soft Brexit Tory,’ to Thom Tuck’s horribly oily, Rees Mogg like Simon Cavendish. Diana again, this time to the PM, ‘You can’t continue to govern over Schrodinger’s Brexit.’ Evans and Tuck are on opposing sides of the hard/soft Brexit divide, could they work together? Ultimately it’s all about power. And the man behind the power of the Prime Minister, and his election, is Campaign Manager and Chief Political Advisor, Paul Connell. Adam Astill plays him beautifully as a put upon, hard working power broker, who would prefer to stay on the sidelines. The Machiavellian power behind the throne. The final character is Lucy Montgomery’s, effortlessly in control, Helena Brandt, the chief EU negotiator. She is the epitome of elegance and understated power, that word again. The cast don’t put a foot wrong.

This play is much more than the one liners. The writing is pitch perfect. The creative team of Robert Khan and Tom Salinsky have given us a true ‘play for today,’ rooted in current political reality, spiced with delicious humour, razor sharp with insight and sparkling wit. Salinsky also directs, using the simple set with an economy that works really well. Credit must also go to Nicholas Holdridge and Jamie Robertson for the lighting, music and sound design.

If you can get a ticket do go and see this. It’s well worth it, and it’s a relief to actually be able to laugh when Brexit is mentioned, rather than sigh with despair!

 

Reviewed by Katre

Photography by Steve Ullathorne

 

kings head theatre

Brexit

King’s Head Theatre until 17th November

 

 

 

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