'Allo, 'Allo - Review

NODA (National Operatic and Dramatic Association)

Review by John Roberts
Poster for 'Allo, 'Allo.

Title: 'Allo, 'Allo by Jeremy Lloyd and David Croft
Director: Katherine Johnson
Performed at The Studio, Dovercourt on Thursday 17th November 2016 at 7.30pm

A warm welcome awaited the audience at the Dovercourt Theatre Studio as they were greeted by front of house members dressed in appropriately French-style outfits which set the tone for the evening. The open set revealed a good use of the limited space available and the bentwood chairs, bar counter, chalkboard and 'food' on the shelves created the ambience of a French café. I particularly liked the way the auditorium door had been turned into the entrance to the café and the signwriting, bell and 'fermé/ouvert' sign were nice touches.

Steve Fisher as Rene Artois and Margaret Coleman as Edith Artois made a good double act; they had some nice facial expressions and moved well around the stage. Edith's singing was a highlight as always! Yvette Carte-Blanche and Michelle Dubois were played by Sarah Talbot-Ashby and Anna Davie respectively and they were an engaging and pretty pair. Jacqui Caudill gave a strong portrayal as Mimi Lebonq, with a good voice and fantastic hair, and Rob Porter was suitably glum as Colonel Von Strohm.

Jordan Brown got plenty of laughs as Officer Crabtree, Chris Root played Monsieur Le Clerc in a variety of disguises and General Schmelling was convincingly portrayed by Andrew Dace.

Gemma Quin and Greg Potter were excellent as Helga and Herr Flick, maintaining their characters throughout the performance with great expression. Helga's strip tease was very amusing. Herr Flick's disguise as a cinema usherette was hilarious.

Another standout performance was given by Lewis Rodger as Lieutenant Gruber; a great characterisation with a good accent and a well-maintained pained expression throughout. Captain Bertorelli was also well played by Richard Kemp-Luck who was very amusing throughout.

Special mention must go to Adam Vaclavik, Sam Pickess, Ellie Edmondson and Deonne Newson as both the British airmen and the French peasants. Despite having very few lines to say they all sustained their various characters throughout the performance and appeared natural and engaged at all times - a very good example of ensemble playing.

Sound and lighting were simple but effective and helped create the right atmosphere. Costumes were good, apart from the full-length women's leather coat worn by Herr Flick, and combined with the hair and makeup maintained the wartime feel.

The characters in a show like this need to be played larger-than-life and pace and energy are essential to keep the momentum going. I would have liked to see more of the cast taking this on board, picking up their cues more quickly and 'bigging up' their performances. However, this was an entertaining production and the hard work of the cast and crew was very apparent. A creditable production all round.