Hark, Londoners. When threatened by winter gloom and other forces of evil, do not despair for Dick Barton is there! Nestled in the industrial underworld of East Croydon, Barton, based on the 1940s BBC radio serial, now enters the fifth episode of the popular series that started in December 1998. Now, five years on, this hit holiday splendour continues to reap the benefits.
Coming from the minds of Duncan Wisbey, Stefan Bednarczyk and Warehouse artistic director Ted Craig, the truth of the inimitable private eye's past is revealed. Key questions are finally answered: 'How did Richard Barton meet his sidekicks Jock and Snowy?' and 'Why are they hiding the boot polish?'
In Episode V - The Excess of Evil, Barton is played to astute perfection by George Asprey, who not only looks the part but acts it with just the right suaveness and heroic attributes that are essential.
As he embarks on his adventures, he encounters many strange and mystical people. From the land of Abroadia to backstage at the Royal Albert Hall, the array of ancillary characters adds to the delight. All are played by a tight-knit ensemble with great versatility, beginning with Kit Benjamin's spot-on BBC announcer as well as his moustache-touting Colonel Reginald Gardener.
Barton is well supported on his mission by William Oxborrow's Snowy and Darrell Brockis' Jock. This trio has chemistry that makes the theatre crackle, especially on their musical number 'Friendship', which goes to the tune of a traditional favourite, 'The British Grenadiers'.
Aside from one piece, all of the numbers go hand in hand with a traditional or classical piece from yesteryear, including Barton's 'Pluck' (to 'Onward Christian Soldiers') and 'Where Shall I Begin' (to Mozart's 'Rondo a la Turka').
Graham Kent plays the dastardly wicked Baron, amongst other roles, and gives a fine comedic performance, while Vicki Simon puts the icing on the cake portraying the numerous females who fill Barton's non-stop life.
Brimming with talent and laughs, this is a great evening's entertainment. Beware evildoers, Dick Barton has arrived.
- Christian Bell