There currently seems to be a run of TV sitcoms being turned in to stage shows, all be it with varying degrees of success. Some still have one or two actors from the original TV show thrown in for good measure, while others rely totally on impersonations to try and recreate the TV magic on stage.
Bring of an age where I can recall the actual cast of Dads Army appearing at the Theatre Royal, I did not look forward to the first tour of Dad’s Army entitled Dad’s Army: the last Episodes, as I could not see how the magic could be recaptured. However, I was wrong and careful casting had brought the entire familiar TV characters back to life once again. Impossible as it was to believe, Timothy Kightley breathed life back in to Captain Mainwaring to a point where you forgot it was not Arthur Lowe playing the role on stage. The characters of Wilson, Jones, Frazer and Pike were all there with the only familiar face being Leslie Grantham, portraying Private Walker.
The same cast have reassembled to present four further episodes of the TV series, presented as Dad’s Army Marches On. Act One is Mums Army and Branded, while Act Two is Young and Beautiful and The Two and a Half Feathers. The authors Jimmy Perry and David Croft actually chose Branded and Mum’s Army as the episodes they would like to see screened as part of the BBC’s Dad’s Army 40th Birthday celebrations. However, while amusing and occasionally funny enough to laugh out loud at, the magic of the Dad’s Army: the Lost Episodes is not there. In fact the second half seemed overly long. Possibly because the episodes chosen for this tour involve a lot of extra characters, the charm sadly seems to be lost.
Also the casting of two of the female parts is not as precise as the platoon itself. The characters of Mrs Fox (friend then finally wife of Corporal Jones on TV) and Edith (played by Wendy Richards on screen) are pale representations of the TV characters. Ursula Mohan does not have the stature of Mrs Fox and while looking like the TV Edith, Helen Carter does not capture either the voice or mannerisms of her TV counterpart. Due to the near perfect casting of the other characters these two roles, who were never major characters but memorable all the same, jar totally.
There is plenty to like about this production but the episodes do not transfer as well to the stage as the ones chosen for the previous tour, which given the effort of the cast to faithfully recreate the Walmington on Sea platoon is a shame.