Tudor era spoof banishes January blues
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.