An evening of nostalgia is what we were treated to at the Theatre Royal in the shape of Stop Messing About, the popular radio series from the BBC.
Stop Messing About was the follow up to the much loved and hugely popular Round the Horne, which was shelved after the death of its ‘lead’ Kenneth Horne, due to a heart attack. In the cast of Round the Horne were Kenneth Williams and Hugh Paddick, with the announcing and links provided by Douglas Smith. Members of the original cast were brought together for the new format and were ably assisted by the wonderful Joan Simms, who replaced Betty Marsden. The show proved to be less of a hit and it failed to live up to the expectations of its predecessor. It didn’t last for long!
This evening we were treated to a selection of the best ‘bits’ of the series. Humour of this type is a dying art, and the double entendres shot through every line. The laughing never stopped in this two hour trip down memory lane.
The star of the radio show was the inimitable Kenneth Williams, played with faultless precision and timing by Robin Sebastian, every nuance and acid dropped line was there to enjoy, never dropping the characters larger than life demeanour or delivery. His sidekick in the show was the irrepressible Hugh Paddick – Nigel Harrison. Harrison is superb in the role of Paddick, conjuring voices that radiate around the theatre, again with a timing and precision that lead one to believe it was the man himself, not so much an ‘impression’ of the man, but a recreation of his very being.
To keep the two larger than life performers at bay there was the voice of the BBC’s Douglas Smith – played by Charles Armstrong. Clipped vowels and RP that was a joy to listen to, and once again, as the show went on, I almost forgot it was an actor playing the role and not the man himself.
One of the favourite stars of this reviewer is the wonderful Joan Simms played by India Fisher, again she captures the cheekiness and warmth of one of Britain’s best loved ‘stars’, again the versatility of voice and character is a joy. In the role of the sound engineer- Timothy Dodd isn’t really stretched as other members of the cast are, and yet he is the key to the brilliance of this show. A radio show for the theatre, played with every theatrical trick at the actors disposal.
A brilliant evening at the theatre where the laughs were both bawdy and irreverent, and to close your eyes and listen for just a minute, time had gone back 30 years.