Pros: Brilliant acting, and excellent use of scenery and props
Cons: The play created a lot of mess on the floor, I pity the cleaner!
There is little more satisfying than discovering a fantastic adaptation of source material which made you in the past guffaw through an entire train journey. Rough Haired Pointer’s reworking of nine year old Daisy Ashford’s novella is a most welcome, and often laugh-out-loud, retelling. Every inch of the Tabard Theatre is covered with chintzy curtain lengths and an internal gazebo is put to multiple uses. Many of the props generate laughs simply from their positioning or through breaking of the fourth wall, from the humble egg to a bunch of flowers. The stage direction is fantastically innovative and does not feel overdone, despite the deployment of every theatrical trick in the book. One must remember that the story was written from the perspective of a rather unique child, and the humour in The Young Visiters must reflect that sense of silliness and fun.
The story is about Mr Salteena (Jake Curran) an ‘elderly gentleman of 42’ and his attempt to climb the social ladder and marry the woman of his dreams, the young Ethel Monticue (Marianne Chase, reprising her role in all its be-rouged glory). He seeks help from an old acquaince, Lord Bernard Clark (Georgie Wright), who assists Salteena in one way, but places himself in the path of the other. The small audience of the Tabard is privy to every sly glance, every rolled eye and shoulder shrug of the actors and you warm to their wacky style almost immediately. Through the laughs I found the acting to be quite superb; particular mention should be made of Jordan Mallory-Skinner, whose variety of mannerisms and accents for each of his characters are admirable. Despite my visit being on the first night, the scene transitions were either entirely smooth or deliberately awkward, and the whole looked very professional. I also loved the use of sound throughout the performance, both the pre-recorded effects and the music made by the actors. I would particularly like to commend Sophie Crawford for her accordion playing whilst narrating. Another great example is the recording that plays as you walk into the theatre, which is a combination of a jewellery-box tune with the voice of a child spelling out the endearingly incorrect words as kept in the book.
It is clear from the outset that the team behind this play do not only know Ashford’s story back to front, they also love it. The production is a wonderful glittery melting pot of all the ways in which a child views adulthood in their innocence, and the audience are along for this colourful ride. I’m certain that, had the Tabard been larger, the play would have received a standing ovation, because it certainly deserves one. Do go, it is absolutely spiffing.
Original Author: Daisy Ashford
Adaptation and Direction By: Mary Franklin
Producer: Olivia Amory, Rough Haired Pointer
Box Office: 020 8995 6035
Booking Link: http://www.tabardweb.co.uk/youngvisiters.htm
Booking Until: 26 March 2016