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Chris High reviews The Not So Great Escape on

Link: Carlton Little Theatre official website

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Chris High theatre review.

The Not So Great Escape
By Mike Lockley

Kevin Eames, Mike Lockley, Sean Dutton, Richard Dodd, Pete Legg, Matthew Hayes, Mark Prescott, Craig McGrath, Adrian Davies,
Carole McGrath, Eryl Hughes
Director: Mike Lockley
Stage Manager: Val Bryan
Livemak Theatre Company

Little Theatre, Birkenhead
Friday March 16th, 2007

Link: Carlton Little Theatre official website

It’s official. Amateur Dramatics on Merseyside is alive and well thanks to “professional” productions such as Mike Lockley’s The Not So Great Escape. So, with Capital of Culture year looming and the big boys arriving to the area by the truckload, long may it continue to thrive and gain the recognition it deserves.

Set, as one might expect, in a World War II POW camp, the aim of the inmates is to escape. With some spoofing on the famous McQueen movie, the cast never try to emulate the famous motorbike scene, but instead prefer to dig under the latrines, dress as women – frequently – or disguise themselves as giant cats to fool the Goons.
This is the sort of excellent slapstick, knock-around entertainment that gave British variety theatre its standard in days gone by, with the format hardly dulling as the years have passed thanks to a tight script that is both well crafted and fall-down laughing silly.

The sets, constructed entirely by members of Livemak, are superb and give a real “Cell Block H” authenticity to the farce that unfolding on stage, with bits wobbling and lots of wispy smoke signalling explosions to heighten the laughs.

The acting, too, is exemplary, with Pete Legg as the short sighted Private Harris almost stealing the show. His timing and sense of proportion to his witless character excelled. Other plaudits should also be handed to Mark Prescott for his portrayal of Commandant Schmidt and to Kevin Eames as the suitably bumptious Sergeant Perkins who both “lived the roles” and hammed it up splendidly. Yet to single out just three actors is an injustice. This was a team effort that won the “war” on tedium hands down. As a result, this production – the winner of the Best Comedy award at the 2006 All England Drama Festival – is an all round winner and great fun to witness.

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“Writing gets me away for a while' from this world and into one where I, alone, can make or
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