Rising Damp (Tour - Norwich)
There's a delicious sense of déjà-vu – if you inhabited urban bedsitter-land around 1970 – about the new touring production of Eric Chappell's Rising Damp directed by one of the stars of the original television sitcom, Don Warrington.
The grisly grimy walls, mis-matched furniture, uncertain bedding, unsavoury cooking facilities – they're all there in Judy Reaves' spot-on set and costume designs.
Landlord Rigsby is the king-pin of the this lodging house, prone to favouring certain of his tenants over others (notably university administrator Ruth Jones). The attic is meant to be a two-room let to one person, but medical student Alan (all unkempt long hair and unfortunate flares) finds that he's sharing it with Philip. Philip, many degrees smarter than most people around him, is Black and purports to be a king.
Over the course of twelve months, these four oddballs find themselves in as many predicaments as there are days in a year. It keeps the audience in gales of laughter, of which quite a high proportion I suspect to be due to affection for the 1974-78 television series. Stephen Chapman as Rigsby has a tendency to gabble and, with the exception of the punch lines, his preliminary sentences don't always carry across the whole auditorium.
Cornelius Macarthy has Philip down to the most precise of tees. He both looks and sounds right as he manipulates landlord and fellow tenants alike. Amanda Hadingue flutters becomingly as Ruth whether swathed in matching nightdress and negligée or demure in high-necked jumper.
As Alan endeavours to balance study and a hoped-for love life, Paul Morse makes us all hanker for those carefree days when students knew that there was a bright future ahead.