By: Paul Elliot
Directed by: Chris Colby
Venue: Connaught Theatre
Date: Tuesday 13th November 2007
This was as minimal a 5/10 performance as I can go, but as there were some laughs, it was at the Connaught, and it was for charity, I’m happier being kind. I did wonder if my watch had stopped a few times, but we got there in the end.
The plot concerned a bunch of elderly actors and entertainers in a rest home specifically run for this group of semi-retired performers (they want to work, no one wants them). Due to some spurious financial losses their home is about to be sold, and they hit on a plan to kidnap a famous person, demand a ransom, and then use the loot to buy the home. Jeffrey Archer is the celebrity chosen, and he ends up cooperating, as he’s realised what’s going on (no appearance from the famous man, thank goodness). Despite a visit from a retiring detective inspector, the gang get away with their scheme, and all ends happily. Their home is bought by another theatrical charity (the one raising money tonight), and they can all stay. The ransom money is being returned, and one of their number gets an unexpected windfall which he’s happy to share with the others. Ah.
Despite having more holes than a large sieve, this plot trundled along well enough for the most part, with decent performances from the various actors. Most of them were old troupers themselves, and there were a few references to past triumphs, such as Gordon Kaye’s use of “you silly woman” coupled with a picture on a back wall that looked remarkably like the Fallen Madonna With The Big Boobies we all know and love so well. Don Maclean played an ageing singer who decides to take up ventriloquism, which used to be a staple of his act, and there were no doubt other references I wasn’t aware of. A lot of the writing could do with a serious rework, but there were some good lines, and I did enjoy the appearance of the kidnappers in disguise – Tony Blair, Prince Charles, Margaret Thatcher and Elvis Presley, as well as a dwarf in a Santa suit. All in all, it was a bearable evening with some good moments.
© 2007 Sheila Evans at ilovetheatre.me