Read this very carefully, I shall write it only once!
Those of you who recognised the misquote above were probably fans of the 80s British television comedy series ‘Allo ‘Allo.
The real catchphrase, “Listen very carefully, I shall say this only once” was only one of many to have been spawned by the Jeremy Lloyd/David Croft World War Two send-up (other classics from the series included “Good Moaning”, “The painting of the fallen Madonna with the big boobies by Van Klomp”, “You stupid woman” and “What a mistaka to maka”). If you have never really heard of the series, then you might have thought this reviewer was on something.
The above paragraph demonstrates the two reactions that the stage version of ‘Allo ‘Allo is likely to have on an audience: if you are a fan already, then it’s more than likely you will love the stage show – even though it is not as funny and doesn’t translate all that well to the theatre. Those who are fairly unfamiliar with the series will probably wonder what on earth the fuss was all about.
The plot line is too complicated to explain in detail. Let us just say that the story is set in a little village in occupied France during World War Two, and involves sausages, the painting of The Fallen Madonna With The Big Boobies and it’s forgery, many Hitlers (including an inflatable version) and swastika underwear (don’t ask!).
For the most part, Myles Leon’s production for Noarlunga Theatre Company works. It is fairly pacey, most of the characterisations work, and Leon demonstrates a marvellous gift of capturing British physical comedy extremely well. He has managed to deal with the multitude of scene changes quite well, by having bits of the set revolving from time to time. Careful attention has been paid to the fairly accurate costumes by Cherylene O’Brien and Violetta Sikora.
James Barbary does a pretty good impression of the series actor Gordon Kaye, playing cafe proprietor, Rene, but he needs to watch his French accent – it gets too good at times. He works well with Linda Lawson as his troll of a wife, Edith. His two waitresses, Lorelle Pfeiffer as Yvette and Kirsty Battersby as Mimi are wonderfully spot-on with their characterisations and light up the stage whenever they appear.
As German private, Helga, Cherylene O’Brien is nicely strict, severe and splendid. Comic performance laurels, however, must go to Mitchell Lowe as the very strange(Love) Gestapo officer Herr Otto Flick. He is hilarious and his Tango with O’Brien is sheer comic gold.
If good, slightly unclean campy humour is what you crave, then go say ‘Allo ‘Allo to the Noarlunga Theatre Company.
Reviewed by Brian Godfrey
Venue: Port Noarlunga Arts Centre, 22 Gawler Street, Port Noarlunga
Season: 21 – 29 November 2014
Duration: 2 hours 30 mins including interval
Tickets: $14.00 – $20.00
Bookings: Ph: 0499 870 929