Told By An Idiot’s latest co-production with Plymouth’s Drum Theatre is an attempt to ‘do something political’ while retaining the company’s international reputation for innovation and comedy. And The Horse You Rode In On is exactly that.
Directors Paul Hunter and Hayley Carmichael have combined terrorist activity with episodes of Are You Being Served? in their attempt to illustrate the lengths to which fanatics will go to achieve results.
Said to have been inspired by Hitchcock’s Sabotage, Dario Fo and Gunter Grass, various attempts to ‘enlighten through demonstration’ throughout the ages are portrayed – from the abduction of the Trampolini family en route to perform at the French court of King Louis through ensuring young Stevie’s birthday goes off with a bang to a professor attempting to dissuade his erstwhile student from setting fire to her dog in the Grace Brothers’ café.
Players and contributors Annie Fitzmaurice, Bettrys Jones, Martin Hyder, Jane Guernier and Nick Haverson are all superbly versatile – whether playing truculent spies, young lads or meerkats, ditsy mothers, mountain-climbing acrobats or Hitchcock - and their observations of the Grace Brothers’ staff are acute.
There are off-the-wall laughs aplenty and sound effects to write home about. Odd devices contribute to the overall silliness – such as having two side of stage actors providing the speech while three on stage actors mime and play catch up on the ad libs.
Commissioned by the Barbican and Brighton Festival, And The Horse you Rode In On is an entertaining evening out.