Devonshire Park Theatre, Eastbourne. 3-7 March 2015
The Original Theatre Company returns to Eastbourne Theatres this week with another of the brilliantly adapted and well-choreographed performances that we love.
Opening last season’s tour of Birdsong at the Devonshire Park, The Original Theatre Company made an impact on Eastbourne audiences and this season’s offering does not disappoint.
This conspicuously theatrical adaptation of Jerome K. Jerome’s 1889 comedy novel about a boating trip on the Thames includes dance- and music-hall numbers, timeless humour, friendly audience interaction and superbly-timed comedy surprises.
One of my favourite moments was the ‘impromptu’ rendition of ‘Any Old Iron’ – a beloved song of my late, storytelling Grandad Sam, and I enjoyed quietly joining in with the choruses in his memory.
There was a real sense of fun in this performance and, as ever, the actors of this company seemed to enjoy every minute on stage, making it a joy to watch for so many reasons.
The nods towards the play’s own absurd theatricality, together with anachronistic references to popular and contemporary culture helped to make this play feel as modern as it is a story of its time. Humorous perspectives on some of the story’s less PC historical ideas also gave it a contemporary glance, although it was a shame that more couldn’t be done to give a voice to Anna Westlake, who played Nellie in silence throughout – a sublimely frustrating achievement for an actor on the stage!
The whole show is carried by a small and relentlessly energetic cast, an intricately designed set, and a ‘small part of every Englishman that is a dog’.
It’s a great night at the theatre – catch it while you can this week!