Monday, January 26, 2009

Oliver! @ The Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, London, Saturday 24th January 2009

Yes, in a shocking development I've actually ventured away from The Rainbow (and gigs), for a week or so, trading it all in for a bit of a 'cockerny' knees up and no mistake, gawd blimey, leave it ahhht etc etc. I don't follow many of the talent shows on TV but I did get sucked in to I'd Do Anything, the programme that hunted out a Nancy (cue many 'humourous' opportunities for show host Graham Norton) for the latest in a lucrative line of West End revivals. The winner was a lovely lady from Blackpool called Jodie who I'd taken a shine to in the very first episode. Hurrah! The other 'star' of the show is Rowan Atkinson, seemingly in his first stage role for 20 odd years or so. As a bit of a Blackadder fan this seemed too good an opportunity to miss. If you've seen the 1960's film version you'll know all the tunes and the cast and crew (really impressive sets) of this production do a grand job of bringing it all to life. Rowan brings a fair helping of both Mr Bean and Blackadder to the role. At one point he plays with what looks like Mr Bean's teddy (he does that Bean-ish face too) before throwing it into the fire. The way he pronounces the word 'bob' a couple of times is also clearly a reference to the Blackadder episode in which he falls in love with a girl dressed as a boy. Nice touches if you get it, not too distracting if you don't. It's an incredibly physical performance...he really is rubber limbed...and he has a surprisingly strong singing voice. Jodie belted out all of her tunes too, which is just what the character calls for...'As Long As He Needs Me' and 'Ooom Pah Pah', you can't really do 'em any other way can you? It's remarkable to think that it's her first big role. If you're in London and can get a ticket I can heartily recommend's one of the best West End shows I've seen...don't drink at the theatre bar though...£14 for two plastic beakers of red 'wine'. Clearly the dudes running the operation have taken the song 'You've Got To Pick a Pocket or Two' literally....

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