ALL AND Sundry’s stage version of Blackadder – The Tudor Years was a brave move as people will naturally have the TV show in their heads as a benchmark as they take their seats.
But this talented cast rose to the challenge and put on a fantastic production. It featured three episodes from the popular programme – Money, Bells and Beer.
There were some great performances on the night – Alan Feeney was strong as Blackadder – he did well as the main character and focal point, delivering some great one-liners along the way.
Comedy is all about timing and sitcoms are all about the characters and the way they interact.
Feeney’s partnerships with John Aubrey as Baldrick and Matthew Fearnley as Lord Percy were faultless throughout.
Graham Forbes impressed as the stern and self-righteous Bishop of Bath and Wells and Edward Timpson delighted the crowd with his brief and brilliant appearance as Flasheart.
The problem with that role is it was played in the TV show by the late Rik Mayall – you couldn’t ask for bigger shoes to fill and he did just that, providing plenty of real laugh out loud moments during the brash character’s short time on the stage.
The Blackadder cast was just 13 people and there were plenty of titters when some of the actors – such as Bob Wilkes and Sheila Proudfoot – came on in different roles.
But the performances of the evening went to Tanith Garcia as Queenie and Mandy Hawkes as Nursie. There was so much comedy generated between the two, simply through their interaction on the stage. In fact, there were giggles as they appeared, even before they had said anything. Tanith’s body language, facial expressions and all-round portrayal of this fiery, colourful and exciting character was second to none and stole the show. Her sidekick complemented her greatly and a lot of the time it was her laughter that led to hysterics from the audience.
The set was clever and simple as – with scenes punctuated with instrumental music – it enabled the show to maintain a fast pace, similar to how it was in the TV show.
This was particularly so in the final episode where Blackadder is entertaining two different parties – one a purist and the other a drunken rabble’s get-together.
The finale, however, was a master stroke from producer and director Andrew Corcoran and associate director Emma Hay.
To create a bawdy and comedic song based on Master of the House from Les Miserables which, as well as getting a few laughs, also got all the actors on the stage at the same time for the final bow was genius and made that part of the show seamless.