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

Hang on to your swashes old bean!

Dick Barton, Special Agent

Hall Green Little Theatre


THERE are swashes to be buckled and derring deeds to be done. Where else would Britain look in a time of crisis? The man who will never let us down is in temporary residence at Hall Green.

His arch enemy Baron Scarheart has imprisoned him but it is no surprise to discover that he has escaped by dint of breaching a few dams, helping a nun across the Alps and escaping from Colditz. It will take more than a bomb due to detonate at the merest hint of a sexual innuendo to defeat him.

It can be difficult to keep on the right side of Katy Campbell – seen here as Daphne Fritters (left)  and as Marta Heartburn (right) with Tony O'Hagan as Jock and Ara Soutoudeh as Dick Barton

Just as well, really, because there is no shortage of this particular commodity – much of it proffered by the excellent Katy Campbell, who doubles as the wicked and lascivious Marta Heartburn and the sweetly reassuring Daphne Fritters – who pauses prettily to remind us of the nightingale that sang in Berkeley Square. She is the daughter of Sir Stanley (Graham Walker), the stiff-upper-lipped Minister responsible for wartime provisions – who goes and gets himself captured and thus provides yet another mission for our hero.


Dick Barton – for it is he – is reunited after about 60 years with Snowy, his cohort of early-evening wireless all that time ago, and finds Ara Sotoudeh arriviung with a most appropriate personal swagger while escaping from being hanged and surviving the problem of the poisoned tea. Tea is the stuff that everything stops for, as we are delightfully reminded on one of the many occasions when the story bursts into song.

In this regard, considerable use is made of Gilbert & Sullivan numbers which author Phil Willmott has mischievously reworded, but there is also a nod in the direction of grand opera by way of Nessun Dorma.

Dean Taylor is fiendishly flamboyant and eminently booable as Baron Scarheart, though like the cod-German accent of Marta Heartburn he sometimes has problems in making himself heard – let alone understood – if anything else is going on at the same time, and there often is. Helen Dawson is a miniature and mischievous delight as Lady Laxington, with Tony O'Hagan scoring heavily as the indefatigable Jock and Les Jukes the Very Positively British Colonel Gardener.

An amusing four-strong chorus grabs its opportunity when it comes. It is time to be grateful that Jaz Davison and Louise Price have created a production whose intermittent naughtiness is a reminder that schoolboy humour is not yet ready to go into hiding. To 22.5.10.

John Slim

Box Office : 0121 707 1874    On-line booking  


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