Private Dick Whittington

B2 Belgrade Theatre, Coventry

*****

THE B2 in Coventry has created a tradition for the ‘Bah Humbug’ brigade, underwhelmed by the tinsel and toy consumer-fest that is the modern Christmas.

Private Dick Whittington fits perfectly while directing a discreet nod to the festivities. It follows the basic plot of Dick Whittington with plenty of side-tracks and re-routes – plus it is very funny.Writer Nick Walker has clearly opened an awful lot of crackers looking for those shocking jokes!

Billed as a ‘film noir spoof’, it begins with a beautifully choreographed tableau of the four hard-working actors (it certainly seemed like more!) in the ‘uniform’ beige trench coat of the working ‘Dick’, the private investigator.

Dick (Keeley Harker) kicks off with a Dashiell Hammett-style speech setting the scene with the characteristic staccato sentences. He is visited by a startingly tall, elegant woman in the most gorgeous red satin gown, Lauren Alderman (Nicky Cross) ostensibly hiring him to guard the best night’s takings from her father’s variety club. After that, things become considerably more confused.

 

Dick and Cat (Anna Piper – who also plays a vast variety of other parts) set off from Coventry Docks – I’ve never found them but I’ve only lived here 44 years – to Morocco to visit the Leeds educated and wonderfully camp Sultan (Liam Nooney – also very busy on stage) who has lost his ruby and with it the kudos of his kingdom.

You’d expect the local allusions – and sure enough they are there. Under hypnosis, Dick can recount a word-perfect Einstein’s theory of relativity but explaining the rules of driving on the Coventry ring road leave him a stuttering, confused wreck! There’s a jolly allusion to the Coventry City of Culture bid that drew applause from the packed audience.

Directed by Robin Colyer, Private Dick Whittington is also billed as an ‘adult’ show but apart from the odd ‘Dick’ joke and ‘Jenny Talia’, and some comedy kissing, there’s nothing here that would offend your maiden aunts or your teenagers on the look out for an entertaining experience. This is one of which the Belgrade and Nick can be very proud.  To 31-12-16

Jane Howard

08-12-16 

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