EDINBURGH People’s Theatre (EPT) raise some interesting questions about audience taste with their staging of Blackadder Goes Forth.
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Church Hill Theatre, Morningside Road
In an era of ‘Netflix and Chill’, where it’s possible to watch almost any TV series at the touch of a button in the comfort of your own home, who does a production of the 27-year-old comedy appeal to?
It was clear Wednesday night’s audience at the Church Hill were intimately familiar with the three scripts EPT performed and well invested in the drama, particularly the poignant close of the last story. So perhaps it is a case of preaching to the converted.
The production certainly suited the company, the actors relishing the opportunity to try on such familiar characters. Pat Hymer’s Captain Darling, in particular, was an object lesson in ingratiating smarm, chiming well with Graham Bell’s accomplished Melchett.
Mike Brownsell’s eponymous Blackadder hit many of the right notes but, judging by the actor’s turn in the Major Star episode, he comfortably has the ability and range to drop the Rowan Atkinson tribute and be more daring in his own interpretation of the role.
Iain Menzies’ Baldrick had a disarming gentleness that is sometimes lost in the original series. As was the character’s creative gourmet choices, cat vomit custard a far more daunting prospect on a live stage than at the safe distance of a television studio.
Simon Eilbeck’s George was another case where devotedly following Hugh Laurie’s lead, while delighting the audience, may have reduced the punch the actor could have had if he had taken the role in a different direction.
Kirsty Boyle’s Direction was faithful, understated and apt. There’s room for her to encourage her actors to be more present in the moment and have the confidence to time their gags to the audience’s reaction but it’s an issue that can be very difficult to negotiate when the source material is so set.
Run ends Saturday