charlie and stan

Jerone Marsh Reid as Stan Laurel, Danielle Bird as Charlie Chaplin, Reggie as Scraps and Nick Haverson as Fred Karno. Picture: Matt Crockett

Charlie & Stan

Malvern Theatres


Don’t miss this opportunity to see a brilliant and witty production that takes one back to a bygone era of silent movies, innocent and child-like farce and knockabout comedy. Charlie Chaplin was of course the king of the comic movies of his era.

Before he became a household name he took a ferry across the Atlantic with Stan Laurel, half of the future Laurel and Hardy, and Paul Hunter has created this fictional production which imagines some of their time together on this journey in the style of the silent movies.

All the key elements are there: the lively honky-tonk piano and the significant melodies to match the action, the slapstick humour, the period costumes and props, the written notice boards to explain context . . .

Because the action relies on visual and physical humour, mime, exaggerated walks and actions, the audience are drawn into the action to decipher the significance of those actions and relationships. Mime calls for added concentration by the audience, but can be enjoyed at very different levels.

Danielle Bird stars as the incomparable Charlie Chaplin. Her small stature, typical bow-legged gait and waddle, her curly black hair and bowler hat make her an admirable casting for the role. The staccato movements and gestures, the sudden and unexpected movements requiring great physical agility are all brilliant.

She is ably supported by the rest of the cast. Jerone Marsh-Reid as Stan, the versatile Nick Haverson who plays a variety of roles with great flair (his Hardy playing golf and his drumming were outstanding), and Sara Alexander who, along with acting as Charlie’s mother, plays the piano with real feeling, sensitivity and skill, all provide excellent colour and characterisations.

The production team have done an excellent job here: Ioana Curelea’s set is innovative and brilliant, establishing the sense of the ferry boat with funnel, life-ring, gangplank and bunks in the interior , the port side quay, the sea etc.

Zoe Rahman’s music establishes the atmosphere and mood of the various scenes along with great sound effects - having live musicians on the piano and drums is highly effective - Jos Houben’s physical comedy and Aideen Malone’s lighting all contribute to realising the Paul Hunter vision.

This is a brilliant piece of entertainment for any who remember the comedians of that era. It runs at the Festival Theatre in Malvern till Saturday 21, August. A richly enjoyable family show and evening out! 

Tim Crow


Index page Malvern Reviews A-Z Reviews by Theatre