A sunny afternoon near Midland, my better half and I took a trip to the Midland Arts Centre for the early evening matinee. An odd time to commence;5pm is neither a real afternoon conventional matinee nor yet an evening show, it even confused one of the leading actors who turned up well into the first act.
I am a fan of Johnny Grimm, not always of his writing or productions, but of the man. He deserves success because of his unfailing good humour, persistence and dogged determination to keep putting his distinctly English, often raucous shows, ‘out there’ at some financial cost to himself. Johny writes rapidly and prolifically and just gets the show on stage, damn the problems.
As usual for Le Grimm he has written a politically incorrect pantomime style show for a cast of hundreds (I exaggerate of course, hyperbole is what this style of theatre is all about) All the cast play multiple parts excepting His Grimm-ness himself who remains the storyteller throughout the show.
This is a show of moments. Moments of rich comedy contrasted with moments of the coarsest of coarse acting. (Google; Michael Green, Art of Coarse Acting, should be compulsory reading for all Amateur Dramaticks)
I laughed, chortled and snorted at subtle and not so subtle lines, cringed at the corny and well telegraphed lines. I guffawed at two soldiers/guards who hysterically ad libbed their way through an over long costume change. Moments of professional envy at the effortless characterisation of the Italian Inn keeper, moments of helpless giggles at Nigel Nobody alias Sir Cuthbert of the limp wrist. In a cast of stage debutants and those incurably bitten by the stage bug all had moments of comedic intensity and all acted their collective hearts out with gusto. They were obviously having a great time, and that was appreciated by the audience of greybeards and youngsters. I am not going to single out any one person by name from the large ensemble for special praise because they all worked so damn hard and all made it an entertaining show.
There was one standout star; the costumes, produced by Barb Walton and her team, she is wardrobe queen extra-ordinaire. For a grim (groan) low budget she produced glitter and sparkle, just the right amount of razzle, some dazzle dazzle; faithful to the pantomime roots of this show.
The show needs gentle pruning, some judicious topiary and it needs a big flowery finish. A rousing song, or a wedding scene with a twist would have been an uplifting and traditional close.
The cast and crew made me laugh, and that is a priceless gift. I rate four and a half stars for entertainment Herr Grimm, 5 stars to the cast and crew.