Monday, 27 May 2013

Rising Damp

Rising Damp
Darlington Civic Theatre
Resurrecting classic sit-coms on the stage is all the rage. In recent times I have enjoyed new versions of classics such as Dad's Army, Porridge, Hi-de-Hi! and Up PompeiiRising Damp is the latest one to receive the treatment and it works very well.

Starting in the Autumn of 1969 with Rigsby showing Alan into his new room (a seedy top floor flat, complete with peeling wallpaper, filthy kitchen area and rickety beds), the first half of the play does very well to establish the quartet of characters (Phil and Miss Jones soon make appearances).

We move on a year for part two and the magnificent set ages too. Posters of Fleetwood Mac and Che Guevara adorn the walls and various other artifacts are present, including medical student Alan's plastic  skeleton. The attention to detail is admirable.

As is the norm for such ventures, the play adopts a number of stories from the original TV series. Here we see the boxing match, staged for the honour of Miss Jones, the 'tablets that turn your water green' and several other classic incidents.

The characters are allowed to develop, with great pacing. It soon transpires that Rigsby is not exactly the war hero he pretends to be, Phil is hardly the son of an African chief and Alan's knowledge of the erogenous zones was taken from books and not personal experience.

The cast did a fabulous job of stepping into very famous shoes and director Don Warrington - the original Phil - keeps things tight and and humorous.

The Saturday matinee performance was poorly attended (a number similar to the Hi-de-Hi! show I saw at the same venue) but the applause was warm and genuine.

Follow the news and tour dates over at the official website.

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