Blackadder Goes Forth
Melchett (John Nichols) and Baldrick (Connor Bayley). Photo (c) Rob Warner.
Blackadder Goes Forth, Talisman Theatre and Arts Centre, Monday 28 August - Saturday 2 September 2023
Review by Ashley Hayward.
It seems unbelievable that it’s now 40 years since the sitcom Blackadder first appeared on our TV screens and here we are treated to four episodes from the final series.
Set in the trenches on the Western Front during World War One we get to watch Captain Edmund Blackadder’s hilarious attempts to avoid going ‘over the top’ as, unlike many others, he realises what the inevitable consequence will be.
Nicky Cheung superbly plays the highly intelligent, self-serving Captain with the acerbic wit as he cleverly delivers the sarcastic put downs to those around him.
Nicky Cheung as Blackadder. Photo (c) Rob Warner.
The Captain is aided in his efforts by the subservient and eager to please Private Baldrick, played by Connor Bailey who, although somewhat intellectually challenged, appears far more in touch with reality than his supposed superiors.
Alongside the Captain and Private we have Lieutenant the Hon. George Colthurst St Barleigh appropriately portrayed by Rob Jones as an upper-class twit, best described as rather nice but dim!
John Nichols powerfully plays the misguided commanding officer General Sir Anthony Cecil Hogmany Melchet who enthusiastically directs operations a very long way from the front line!
Blackadder and Baldrick in the classic comedy. Photo (c) Rob Warner.
The General is assisted by Captain Kevin Darling with Alan Wales relishing his role as a pen pusher and rather enjoying the predicament of his rival from his own position of relative safety.
The Director, David Draper certainly does justice to the excellent scripts and the sets and costumes are extremely authentic with atmospheric morale raising songs accompanying the slick scene changes.
It must have been tempting for the performers to merely imitate the actors from the TV series but the entire cast all give their own splendid interpretations.
The scripts were brilliantly written by Ben Elton and Richard Curtis and it is amazing that they manage to bring such wonderful humour into such a tragic period of history.
As with the TV series the final scene is performed with immense sensitivity and we only have to look at the memorials up and down the country to see the extent of the waste of huge numbers of innocent lives who were sent to their deaths by an uninformed elite.
The production provides an opportunity for sombre reflection but also is a fitting tribute to one of our most loved comedy series.
You don’t need to be familiar with the plots or characters from Blackadder to enjoy this production. However, I understand that it is a complete sell out and if you haven’t already obtained a ticket, you’re going to have to come up with ‘a cunning plan’ in order to get in!
See what's coming up at The Talisman Theatre: https://talismantheatre.co.uk/