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Still kidding after all these years

Black market sauce: Walker (Leslie Grantham) and Pike ( Thomas Richardson) tuck in at The British Restaurant while Jones (Richard Tate) explains the Boer War

Dad's Army Matches On

Alexandra Theatre

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ALL the old favourites are there in this celebration of both the 70th anniversary of the Home Guard and one of the nation's favourite TV sitcoms.

Leading the Walmington-on-Sea bunch of assorted misfits of  course is the self-appointed Captain George Mainwaring played to perfection by Timothy Kightley with David Warwick revelling in the role of the diffident Sgt Arthur Wilson  in a play formed around four of the 80 episodes of the TV series.

The same production team and many of the cast were in the 2007 tour of  Dad's Army The lost Episodes and in this new show have included the favourite episodes of the writers with Branded from Jimmy Perry and Mum's Army selected by David Croft along with Young and Beautiful and The 2½ feathers.

Without the continuity and scope afforded by film the result is a rather a collection of sketches which run into each other rather than four individual episodes.

I suspect the result was a show that would have been much less appreciated had it not been for the fact most of the audience had gone along to see old friends they have known for 42 years with lines, plots and characters they knew inside out.

Frazer (Kern Falconer, left), Walker (Leslie Grantham) and Pike (Thomas Richardson)  receive their order from Captain Mainwaring (Timothy Kightley)

Best known of the cast was Lesley Grantham who could get you yards of knicker elastic, or indeed anything you wanted, as the spiv Private Walker - who avoided service in the regular armed forces because of his corned beef allergy.

Maitland Chandler was an excellent Private Godfrey who it turned out had been seriously misjudged by his colleagues as had, don't panic Mr Mainwaring, Richard Tate as Lance-Corporal Jones - both heroes in a past war.

There is also plenty of support from Kern Falconer as Frazer and Thomas Richardson as Pike while Sarah Berger, Helen Carter, Ursula Mohan and Helen Phillips give sterling service as ARP wardens under Martin Caroll's Hodges, Mrs Fox and, the one who took Mainwaring's heart, Mrs Gray.

DECENT PACE

The set was simple with a boat at the back signifying seaside and windows, posters, clocks and the like descending and ascending to indicate church hall, station or whatever and the minimal scenery carried on and off by the cast which meant the evening kept up a decent pace and although there were no belly laughs there was enough humour to keep a permanent smile on the face of the audience.

These theatre spin-offs of TV sitcoms are always a little uneasy. If it is the original cast it is a chance to see the show live but once you use other actors then difficulties arise. Do they attempt to impersonate the TV character they are portraying in a sort of theatrical karaoke? Or do they just give an impression of Wilson, Walker, Jones, Mainwaring and so on? Director James Robert Carson has gone for the latter in that all the characters are easily recognisable but still have enough substance to stand on the stage on their own two feet.

For anyone who has never seen Dad's Army on television this is probably not the show for them but for the majority this is an affectionate tribute to a favourite show. To 09-06-10

Roger Clarke

 

Opening a second front  . . .

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THE old boys in khaki are on parade again, this time ready to do battle to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Home Guard.

Although the much-loved characters from the Walmington-on-sea platoon take a little while to get into their stride in this new adaptation, they eventually come through with flying colours.....helped by a few ladies.

It's traditional British humour, ready to laugh at ourselves as the part-time troops flex their rather old muscles in preparation for hostilities should Adolph Hitler and his men manage to cross the channel.

They even form a ladies section, and that gives the show a boost with local bank manager Captain Mainwaring showing he has a weakness by falling for new recruit Mrs Fiona Gray, played by Sarah Berger.

Timothy Kightley is superb as the pompous Mainwaring, trying to bring a bit of discipline to his rag bag army, and he's a ringer for Arthur Lowe who filled the role so successfully in the hit television series.

In fact many of the characters are carbon copies of the TV troops - Richard Tate in particular who, as Lance Corporal Jones, finds himself having to combat an accusation of cowardice in a previous war.

Leslie Grantham (Pte Walker), David Warwick (Sgt Wilson), Thomas Richardson (Pte Pike) and Maitland Chandler (Pte Godfrey) all earn their stripes, with Helen Carter adding the glamour as Edith and Betty.

Dad's Army Marches on at the Alex till Wednesday night 09.06.10

Paul Marston 

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