Friday, 23 November 2012

Long Live the Mad Parade - review

Written by: Tom Woods (@Thomas_E_Woods)

Where did Woods watch it?
Ashcroft Theatre (Fairfield Halls), Croydon 
Was Woods won over? 

If you saw the image of the queen from the Olympic opening ceremony that was doing the rounds a few months ago, you may well say that she looks “f***ed owff” – which is precisely the set up for Long Live the Mad Parade by David Spicer - a royally entertaining comic fantasy which will leave you grinning from ear to ear.

Opening with The Queen’s secretary the Right Honourable Christopher Massingham CVO OBE (Fred Perry) finding that Her Royal Majesty (or H.R.M) is refusing to get out of bed or deal with any matters of state, the play follows the panic and plans of her courtiers and staff trying to cope with this heretofore unprecedented situation. It’s all jolly entertaining even if things start off a little bit slow, the jokes being mildly amusing, and the blackouts somewhat distracting; this can be forgiven however when the bumbling Lord Chancellor Robert Ludlow (Jeremy Clyde) is introduced. Clyde is utterly flawless in his portrayal of the old politician and staunch defender of tradition and the constitution. He injects the production with a fervent energy and has a certain charm on stage that makes the whole thing a delight to watch. 

It entertains, and creates laughs but also manages to satirise perfectly public opinion and obsession with the royals, class division and the British bureaucracy’s love of committee’s, middlemen and making everything unnecessarily complicated. Granted the latter might be more of a bureaucracy thing in general than a British thing, but being a nation steeped in traditions that have been upheld for centuries it does seem to apply somewhat more in this context. Characters from all walks of life become involved in the mad parade from the humble maid Maxine Chuddley (Beatrice Rose) to the aptly named tabloid reporter Miriam Goss (Johanne Murdock), which leads to some interesting dynamics onstage between the working class and those in the employment of the aristocracy. 

Questions are raised too, like what would happen if Britain became a Republic? Would we be better off or would we lose an institution, and by extension a tradition that, complain though we might, we actually hold quite dear? There is no definite answer, everyone will come to their own conclusions on this, but Long Live the Mad Parade raises the questions in a very deft and amusing fashion. It showcases through the antics on stage how barmy and bonkers our traditions, procedures and constitution are - but at the same time shows it with such grace and affable characters that it’s almost impossible not to be charmed by the desperation of those who stand to loose so much from abolition.

There aren’t enough words in the English dictionary to heap on the praise for this show, though special mention should be given to Nick Palmer’s wonderful slanting set which perfectly captures the feel of satirical cartoonists. Overall this is a wonderfully entertaining, energetic and inspired comedy that is a must see. One is most definitely amused.

This production runs until 24 November 2012. 

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