Tu­dor era spoof ban­ishes Jan­uary blues

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - Wow -

If there was ever a cure for those post-Christ­mas blues that linger on into Jan­uary, then it comes in the form of Eastern An­gles’ lat­est of­fer­ing - Stoat Hall. It is on the di­rec­tor’s ad­mis­sion a tongue-in-cheek send-up of the likes of Wolf Hall, which was a big hit on TV last year. And as spoofs go, it has ev­ery­thing - a witty script, great char­ac­ters and lots of down­right silli­ness.

It is set in the not-so-stately Suf­folk Tu­dor-era home of Sir Roger de Pol­frey, where ren­o­va­tions are not go­ing well - cue quick-fire ref­er­ences to TV’s DIY SOS and a whole host of other shows of that ilk, if you can keep up.

That is typ­i­cal of the hu­mour, cute, smart, a bit silly but gen­er­ally very clev­erly wo­ven into the story. There is even a line or two from Adele which had those in the know nod­ding in the au­di­ence.

Richard Main­war­ing is ex­cel­lent as the down on his luck noble with an un­wanted lin­eage to the throne - his dream se­quence in bed, stand­ing with a pil­low strapped to his head and hold­ing a sheet, was a treat. He sets a high bar for some all round ter­rific per­for­mances.

Matt Jo­pling man­ages to make an un­funny, in­se­cure and nervy court jester Perch the Fool highly amus­ing. A se­cret ad­mirer of one of Sir Roger’s daugh­ter, he gets the laughs he de­serves “shak­ing his love beans” in an at­tempt to woo his would-be beau.

Geri Allen again ex­cels as the air-headed ob­ject of his de­sire, Rosamund (and her mother Ave­line).

The cast switch char­ac­ters seam­lessly and Vi­o­let Pat­tonRy­der is a per­fect ex­am­ple. One minute Ag­nus the grand­mother of the clan, who speaketh as though ev­ery wordeth was writ­ten by her an­ces­tor Ge­of­frey Chaucer; The next she is cook, all hunched over with a thick ac­cent and a ditty to sing.

Some­how manag­ing to stand out in such great com­pany is Pa­trick Ney­man. His barely seen Her­ald was a sign of things to come - topped by a very un­fem­i­nine, un­der­played to per­fec­tion daugh­ter Hed­wig, com­plete with beard and hairy chest.

His John The Al­chemist, with an end­less sup­ply of bod­ies on the slab, was a hoot, and his over-the-top King Henry VIII owed more than a nod to Rik Mayal’s Cap­tain Flash­heart - woosh!

Re­view: Brad Barnes

You can see Stoat Hall at the Key The­atre un­til Satur­day.

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