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The Unimportant History of Britain

By • Off-West End
WOS Rating:
This new comedy, from production company Interrupt the Routine (a silly yet appropriate name to be attached to the kind of intimate revue that is, sadly rare these days), purports to give us a view of Britain never seen in the history books. Books that dwell drearily on the Battle of Hastings but never mention the people who had to clear up the awful mess the next day. There are distinct echoes of 1066 and All That.

A trio of actors Robert Blackwood, Nick Cowell and Polly Eachus squabble amongst themselves, work their socks off and have a great deal of fun with the material which I believe is the work of Blackwood and Cowell who trained together at the RSAMD. I suppose some of the humour could be dismissed as ‘undergraduate’ but none the worse for that because the material is easily understood by anyone with a TV set.

We begin with an audacious rendering of “Jerusalem” with each one vying with the others to get the best lines and then straightaway launch into the Stone Age. “What are they building with those great stones?” “A Henge”. I loved the sight of Polly Eachus staggering under the weight of a stone tray as she brings on the stone cups and saucers for their instant coffee.

Yes there are anachronisms in plenty here. We have Jesus in training to walk on water – doing press ups and living on loaves and fish fingers. We have the brother of Geoffrey Chaucer reciting his own book in horrendous Middle English (a tour de force here from Blackwood).

We launch into the Tudors – Dallas style. Katherine of Aragon with a heavy Mexican accent, Henry doing his constantly smiling JR and Cowell playing a variety of Thomases – More, Cranmer and Cardigan Wolsey.

Many of the items pay homage to well know comedians. There are several convoluted speeches that could have come straight from Blackadder and an Alas Smith and Jones routine complete with mufflers, flat hats and mugs of beers as they do their typical inconsequential chat.

The production values are minimal, just black screens and some neat lighting. But the show is packed with clever words and the direction is well handled by Martin Cort.

This is a fun and totally undemanding evening. Just the thing for the economic turndown and this depressing weather!

- Aline Waites


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