Reviewed by Theo Spring for The Croydon Advertiser
Ingenuity by the boat load – and a flying boat at that – was supplied by the members of the Theatre Workshop Coulsdon. In a production set almost entirely against black drapes, their props and small sets were quite superb.
The tale is pretty ingenious too, packed full of adventure and innuendo, as well as the odd pantomime reference.
Neil Grew as Dr Alabama Jones took a leaf out of Roger Moore’s Bond movies by acting like mad with just his eyebros and a sardonic smile, while Claire Andreadis as Frenchy O’Rourke kept up both her excellent transatlantic accent, her belief that being an American citizen would one day be useful (and she was right) and her devotion to Dr Jones, through many a nightmare journey.
The piece is peopled with nasties, three of whom are Nazis, another is from Munkipore, and yet another the cannibal king of Krakabotl.
All five are determined to make life difficult for Dr Jones and Frenchy as they search for the diamond of Munkipore.
Lisa Lloyd’s swashbuckling Sumatran Sal was something of a turncoat, enticing then denouncing Alabama, and Princess Shag Aloo (Tatiana Allison) turned too, from baddy to goody, having fallen for Alabama’s charms. Squarely on the good side is Hoi-Sin, Alabama’s cook, who knows just one recipe.
Daniel Ireson made an excellent Chinaman and gave rise to excruciating “look, a light, I see a chink ahead” type jokes. These puns flowed throughout a show wonderfully costumed by a team of five wardrobe ladies who particularly excelled on the hats.
The show owes much of its cohesion and air of adventure to sound man Pete Gregory and musical director Mark Taylor, and to the stage crew who manipulated those super props – the huge boulder after the explosion, the lifelike ship’s wheel and, deserving of very high praise, the seaplane, particularly its descent to the sea.
Written and directed by Richard Lloyd, who received unjust thanks as Gotah Singh, bodyguard to the Maharajah, this really is good stuff.
Some unusual audience participation ideas, a surprise ending, loads of comedy and a talented cast gave real Boy’s Own entertainment, except that…Well, just book your ticket and you’ll see what I mean.
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