CHRISTOPHER SMITH Maddermarket Theatre, Norwich
Maddermarket Theatre, Norwich
Julian Slade and Dorothy Reynolds borrow the title Salad Days from Shakespeare. But the Maddermarket Theatre is letting the Bard a chance to rest on his laurels so that the bright young things can sing and dance their way through life to a happy ending no less welcome for being utterly predictable, for the most part.
Peter Sowerbutts is the director, holding a plot together made up of amusing improbabilities and entertaining surprises.
The music is provided by John Linford, with rhythmic support on bass and drums, while John Stokes strikes just the right note of fantasy with his remarkably flexible and pretty sets.
High points are a beauty parlour routine, the moment when Lancelot the constable arrests Rowena in the park while the birds are all atwitter as he whistles and the diplomat plays hoopla with his bowler. A gong is borrowed from J Arthur Rank and John Mangan reaches comic heights as an Egyptian impresario in his fez. The oriental goddess with four arms has an amazing routine, calmly controlled until her nose starts to itch.
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Most of the players have three or four parts each. They enjoy showing us that they can switch character as fast as they can change clothes, not to be quite honest, that some of them have much to wear some of the time.
Teamwork is the essence of this production in this topsy-turvy world where a piano on the loose sets every foot tapping in a London that has quite enough of grim reality for the time being.
Daft idea, really, but quite good enough for a lot of laughs. Spiced with satire and sentimentality until the very last letter in the script.