Reviewed by Diana Eccleston for The Croydon Advertiser
Fairy tale fun of a Baron night
Members of Theatre Workshop Coulsdon indulged in a bit of unashamed escapism at the weekend.
They took their audiences to the fairy tale world of knights and dragons when they staged Robert Bolt’s “The Thwarting of Baron Bolligrew” for four performances at Coulsdon Youth and Social Centre.
On its first night, Vicki Carrington’s production wanted more briskness and brashness to stop the storyline getting bogged down.
All the players needed to relax into their parts to give the tale its momentum and exploit its full fun potential.
Tim Young was a confident villain as the gun-toting, cigar-smoking Bolligrew, but was a prime example of a performer who could have afforded to take his character right over the top.
Peter Gregory was good value as his gormless side-kick Squire Blackheart, with touches of Bernard Bresslaw, while Mark Taylor had worked hardest at his characterisation of the professional magician Dr Moloch.
Richard Lloyd was straight out of the top drawer as the Duke, being allowed to win musical bumps to alleviate his boredom and Simeon Dawes, Lee Wilkinson, Mark Hobbs and Paul Ford looked dashing as his knights in their fine costumes.
The latter, in particular, lived up to his name – Sir Percival Smoothly-Smoothe.
The “faithful chainmail knitters” mentioned in the programme had certainly worked hard to ensure that these gents were sartorially turned out!
Tim Warner appeared a very pillar of morality as the heroic Sir Oblong Fitz Oblong, whose idea of doing something naughty while under Moloch’s spell was to get drunk on wine gums.
Lesley Argles linked the scenes clearly and charmingly as the storyteller.
But my favourite characters were Michael and Mazeppa, two cheeky magpies in excellent costumes and brought chirpily to life by Maureen White and Christine Cooper.
Friday’s small, reserved, audience did little to help the players along. What they needed was a full house of enthusiastic youngsters, which I hope they got for subsequent shows.
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