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Theatre Review (Singapore): “‘Allo ‘Allo” by The Stage Club

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Allo

The Stage Club’s latest offering, ‘Allo ‘Allo, which ran at the DBS Arts Centre from the 22nd of May to 25th May 2013, was a theatrical production of the popular British television show of the same name.

Set in war-torn France during the Second World War, ‘All ‘Allo follows the adventures of René (Hunter Wood), the hapless café owner. He and his wife, Edith (Jane Grafton), struggle to keep for themselves a priceless portrait stolen by the Nazis (fallen Madonna with the big boobies) as Rene cavorts with the ladies working in the cafe. Rene also endeavors to repatriate two British airmen with the help of the Resistance whilst keeping his romantic affairs away from his wife. Meanwhile, The Führer is to visit the town, and René will need all the wit he can muster to save his café and his life, and maybe even his wife.

The play followed the characters, personalities, and storyline viewers of the television show would be familiar with. The dialogue was funny, and the slapstick was full on in this play version, just as it was in the television show. Despite some of the lines not fitting into this era (the television show ran from 1982 to 1992, which was 20 years ago), most of the slapstick moments and physical comedy struck the right note.

Even when the script got farcical towards the end – just as the television show used to get – when a blow up doll was suppose to resemble a real life human being, the actors held their own against the silliness and made the scene even more hilarious with their committed performances. In the hands of less-able actors, such a scene would’ve spiraled into mockery. I have to keep reminding myself and readers that Stage Club is run by amateurs, which is even more remarkable given the level of acting seen in this production.

Especially worthy of mention is Jane Grafton, who’s proving herself to be a very talented and skillful thespian, and as Edith, she sported a perfect French accent and totally embodied her character, complete with Edith’s signature off-pitch singing and befuddled personality. Wood also stood out as the frustrated cafe owner Rene. His faux-French accent never faltered, and Wood excelled at the physical comedy segments.

Also, the chemistry between Grafton and Wood was convincing, and the comedic timing of the ensemble of actors were spot on, thanks to director Sarah Mitchell who made good use of the stage space and props.

For those who remember the antics and outrageous characters of the television show, The Stage Club’s ‘Allo Allo did not disappoint as the actors managed to recreate the craziness and zaniness the show carried. From Michelle’s multi-disguises but faithful line of “I shall disappear like a phantom in zee night” to Office Crabtree’s mispronunciation of English words, and from the love-sick relationship between Herr Otto Flick and Private Geerhart to Lieutenant Grubber’s unrequited crush on Rene, this production of ‘Allo ‘Allo certainly was a faithful and nostalgic ride to a simpler time when “war” had a funny and hilarious side.

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About Sharmila Melissa Yogalingam

Ex-professor, Ex-phd student, current freelance critic, writer and filmmaker.
  • Rob Knaggs

    Hard to believe that when ‘Allo ‘Allo first came out it was quite controversial because some people felt it made light of a particularly grim period of living memory: the Nazi occupation of France. But for whatever bizarre combination of reasons, it was a hit – and is now rightly regarded as one of the all-time greatest British TV comedies.

    I remember seeing the stage show during its original London run, starring most of the TV cast. They inserted (and probably ad-libbed!) a number of off-colour jokes that they could never have got away with on TV.

    ‘Allo ‘Allo was unusual for a sitcom of the time in that it had an overarching storyline (of sorts!) rather than consisting of self-contained episodes. One thing the play pulled off very well was to maintain canon by pulling elements from the TV show (which was still running) into a stand-alone plot. More than 20 years on, clearly it still works!