Over the Top

Coventry Belgrade B2


Over the Top is an unlikely alternative pantomime; it isn’t Christmassy at all. Four hard-working comic actors, Laura Tipper, Aimee Powell, Kimisha Lewis and Miriam Grace Edwards playing a multitude of characters take us from gag-laden, pun-driven WW1 Music Hall farce into real-life story of heroines from the war.

It begins from the premise that Coventry, where it is set in December 1917, celebrates two or maybe three anniversaries this year. One, the best known, is obviously the end of the ‘War to end all Wars’ and there is an elegant prophetic speech to this effect.

There is also the suffragist and suffragette movement that ultimately achieved their goals. The press night is also the anniversary of Coventry being named as City of Culture 2021! That was quite a night!

In the middle of an action-packed Music Hall performed by the troops for the troops (us!), various compères are sent without notice or even a change of clothes into enemy territory behind the front line in France to rescue the Actresses Franchise League, a kind of ENSA, which has become trapped.

The action itself is trapped in a kind of Groundhog Day circuit as they seek the ‘spy’. I enjoyed the scene in the French café with the ticking bomb. Things, as you can imagine, become fairly manic as their escape route is blocked.

Then, all is calm and we are magically transported back to the 1917 Music Hall and a different compère takes us through the same set of circumstances but to a different scene. Minimal props tell the story but some excellent projection work to capture wing-walking on an old prop aircraft being dive-bombed by the Red Baron himself (Kimisha Lewis) in a wonderful inflatable plane – I want one . . . Written by Nick Walker and directed Katy Stephens, Coventry goes Over the Top to 29-12-18

Jane Howard


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