Stars explained: * A production of no real merit with failings in all areas. ** A production showing evidence of not enough time or effort, or even talent, and which never breathes any real life into the piece – or a show lumbered with a terrible script. *** A good enjoyable show which might have some small flaws but has largely achieved what it set out to do.**** An excellent show which shows a great deal of work and stage craft with no noticeable or major flaws.***** A four star show which has found that extra bit of magic which lifts theatre to another plane.
Half stars fall between the ratings

A world beating performance

The Office

Dudley Little Theatre, Netherton Arts  Centre


IN THESE days in the scramble for attention, terms like `world beating' and ` never before seen' are often a gross exaggeration of the facts, added usually in the necessity to rise above the tide of a multitude of products and productions.

So it's surprising that when a small amateur theatre company in Dudley, who, when they have accomplished such a grandiose achievement, leave the superlatives to a single line inside the programme. For them the modest term ` exclusive permission' hardly suffices as pulling off the coup of the decade by staging the first ever version of Ricky Gervais' The Office.

So let's add a little weight to their achievement by saying  in true Frankie Howerd style: this is first time in Dudley  . . . nay the Midlands . . . nay the United Kingdom . . . nay the World.

The idea was the brainchild of director of Pru Warne, who launched an email campaign over several months to writers Gervais and Merchant. Although the pair were busy in Hollywood, they finally gave permission to The Dudley Little Theatre Company for this the first-ever stage version and for the fee of just a few hundred pounds.

Smarm to make you squirm in the shape of David Brent, played by Dave Hutchins

With an open licence to create the work the team set about abridging three episodes to create a single story and have a done a great job in making a coherent production.

Like it or not, David Brent, the irritating boss of The Office, has  become one of the most recognised on TV in recent years, so anyone taking on the role would have a tough job stepping into those shoes.

That task falls to Dave Hutchins and a splendid job he did too. He captured all of Brent's awkward mannerisms and fake office camaraderie and, having a certain physical similarity to Gervais, was a great choice for the part.

Office wallahs Tim and Gareth played by Simon Hawkins and James Silvers respectively, keep the office banter alive with the Claire Hetherington as Dawn the dismissive receptionist.

This is a cast of 20 people and everyone seemed to enjoy their opportunity to be part of his first time production.

As an adaption it works very well although the early stages it suffers from a few too many blackouts where presumably an edit in the programme would have occurred.

What makes the production interesting is that where in the TV series a character might be talking directly to camera we now have a series of audience facing monologues and interestingly it exposes the underlying pathos in the writing.

There is no middle ground with The Office you either love or hate it but what Dudley Theatre has done is created a credible stage play from a TV phenomenon.

Even if the World of David Brent is not entirely your cup of tea its worth going along and giving them your support as you only have three more nights to say you were at a World premiere in Dudley of all places.  To 11-05-13

Jeff Grant 

Home Reviews A-Z Reviews by affiliate