10th – 13th April 2002
Based on the hugely popular TV comedy series, the stage version of ’Allo ’Allo follows the adventures of René, the hapless cafe owner in war-torn occupied France, as he and his wife, Edith, struggle to keep for themselves a priceless portrait stolen by the Nazis and kept in a sausage in their cellar. René is not only hiding a portrait but two British airmen and is endeavouring, with the help of the Resistance, to repatriate them. However, communications with London being via a wireless designed as a cockatoo add to many of the embarrassments he has to face. Further complications arise when it is announced that the Fuhrer is to visit the town! Can René save his café and his life? Now that is the question!
René François Artois, Proprietor, Café René: Robertson Bell
Edith Melba Artois, wife of René: Sheila Benton-Jones
Yvette Carte-Blanche, Serving girl: Brenda Prior
Roger Leclerc, Forger: Peter Whitworth
Michelle Dubois, Maquise: Louise Edwards
Mimi Labonq, Serving girl: Jasmine Gartshore
Officer Crabtree, Gendarme: Mark Bailey
Colonel Kurt von Strohm, Stadtskommandant: Nick Roberts
Capitano Alberto Bertorelli, Fuerze d’Italia: Philip Prior
Herr Otto Flick, Gestaatspolizeioffizer: Paul Shave
Private Helga Geerhart, Stedskommandssekretariat: Tracey Pearce
Lieutnant Hubert Gruber, Panzerdivizionsoffizier: Michael Sheperia
General Ludwig von Schmelling, Regionskommandant: Stuart Peterson
Flying Officer Carstairs, British airman: Sam Langley
Flying Officer Fairfax, British airman: Robin Hawkins
Soldier, Wehrmachtssoldat: Nick Ghailin
Peasant Girls: Becky Palmer / Natalie Smith / Jade Chalfont
Peasant Man: Tim Roberts
London Calling (Radio Voice): Ben Langley
Cinema Narrator: Hani Inglick
Produced by Ian Hickling
Newbury Weekly News review
Ooh La La! Such Goings on!
“Listen carefully, I shall say zis only once.” Yes it was all there. “You stupid woman!” from René, cries of “René!”, from Yvette and, of course, ‘The Fallen Madonna with the Big Boobies’ by Van Clomp. It is difficult to recreate a TV show on stage – we have pictures in our minds of the original actors, but we know what to expect and perhaps it’s precisely that which brings us delight. The stage play is based on the long-running sitcom by Jeremy Lloyd and David Croft; the plot is wildly complicated, but the premise is quite simple, the Resistance want René to help them to repatriate escaped British airmen, while René wants to avoid being shot by the Germans!
The large cast list must have taxed the membership of the players, but it was encouraging to see several members making their stage debut. Skilfully holding the piece together with style and humour was Robertson Bell as René Artois, the café proprietor. Sheila Benton-Jones as Edith was in perfectly awful voice, and Brenda Prior as Yvette, and Jasmine Gartshore as Mimi were deliciously lusty. Louise Edwards as Michelle from the Resistance and Mark Bailey as Officer Crabtree gave strong performances and there was a nice cameo from Peter Whitworth – “It is I, Leclerc!”
Then to the Germans: Nick Roberts was in good form as Colonel von Strohm, Paul Shave was sinister and hilarious as the Gestapo’s Herr Flick, and Michael Sheperia was excellently camp as Lieutenant Gruber. Stuart Peterson was outstanding as Colonel Ludwig Von Schmelling and Tracey Pearce as Private Helga Geerhart was spot on as “the girl who makes officers salute and privates stand to attention”.
Not forgetting a great comedic performance from Phillip Prior as Capitano Bertorelli, and the rest of the supporting cast. The uniforms and costumes were excellent and the set effective, although setting the café Area on the flat made it hard to see at times. It was a difficult genre to tackle, and sometimes the pace was a little slow, but nonetheless this was a spirited attempt by director Ian Hickling and the Compton Players, highly enjoyable, and all in all they pulled it off.