People’s Theatre, Newcastle
There can’t be many of us who aren’t familiar with this iconic BBC series, and this week The People’s give a pretty good rendition of four of the episodes.
They’ve gone for impressions – rather than impersonations – of Rowan Atkinson, Tony Robinson, Fry & Laurie, et al, and the decision to do so is a good one; the actors manage, for the most part, to get the essence of the characters spot on, while still maintaining their own identity within the overall production.
Blackadder, Baldrick, and George are played very nicely indeed by Sam Hinton, Tony Sehgal, and Ben Ostell. Steven Robertson is great as General Melchett, shunning any hint of subtlety over exaggerated madness to get the laughs – exactly right for the character! And Jake Wilson Craw’s cameo as Rik Mayall’s Lord Flashheart is spot on.
There are some moments, especially at the dramatic end (that famous ending we’re all so familiar with) that are wasted due to, in my eyes, an inadequate lighting and technical design, but that doesn’t necessarily detract from the enjoyment of the whole show. One or two of the performances, however, fall way short of the mark; disappointing enough in itself, but all the more marked when stood up against the unavoidable comparison with the original.