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Round the Horne is well worth tuning in



Review by David Munro

WHEN I learned I was to see Round the Horne… revisited I wondered how on earth could a series of songs and sketches designed for radio and audio appreciation succeed on the stage which is fundamentally a visual experience. Having now seen it, I can report that it works extremely well.

Set in a make-believe Paris Recording Studio, in Lower Regent Street, the set is bare except for a lit up facsimile of a radio fascia, an engineers' booth, microphones and chairs.

Against this background, one is invited to believe one is attending two broadcasts of Round The Horne.

The original broadcasters are represented by Stephen Critchlow (Kenneth Horne), Stephen Boswell (Douglas Smith - the announcer), Paul Ryan ( Kenneth Williams), Jonathan Moore (Hugh Paddick) and Sherry Baines (Betty Marsden).

They have set themselves a difficult task in imitating characters, some of whom – Kenneth Williams, in particular – are still very well remembered.

On the whole, I would say they have succeeded; Paul Ryan, in particular, gives a very good impression of Kenneth Williams, mannerisms and all.

The least convincing were Jonathan Moore and Sherry Baines, as both Hugh Paddick and Betty Marsden, had stage personas which are very difficult to pin down and imitate successfully.

Despite that, they both gave a very good overall view of them and were very entertaining in their own right.

The cast are helped by material which has not dated and whose zany sense of humour makes it still very effective.

The lines are delivered with gestures and movements which underline their comical potential and dispelled my fears as to how they would translate to the stage.

They are laden with wit and innuendo, not to mention outrageously funny puns, with Kenneth Horne, as the calm sardonic centre of the comic verbal mayhem swirling around him.

The result is a very funny show in any medium for which a lot of credit must go to the director, Michael Kingsbury, who keeps the action going at a spanking pace, hardly allowing time for the laughs and the stimulated applause. (There are signs which flash indicating where applause is needed, as in a real studio.)

This show makes one realise how good Radio was and how entertaining the comedy shows were. Round the Horne… revisited is a wonderfully entertaining piece of nostalgia and one I certainly wish to revisit again.

Round the Horne revisited, based on radio scripts by Barry Took, Marty Feldman, Johnnie Mortimer and Brian Cooke. Written and adapted by Brian Cooke.
Director, Michael Kingsbury; Designer, Liz Cooke; Lighting, Tony Simpson; Original music and sound, Rod Anderson.
CAST: Stephen Critchlow (Kenneth Horne); Stephen Boswell (Douglas Smith - the announcer); Paul Ryan (Kenneth Williams); Jonathan Moore (Hugh Paddick); Sherry Baines (Betty Marsden); Benedict Martin; Andrea Sadler.
Richmond Theatre, The Green, Richmond, Surrey, TW9 1QJ.
Mon, Sep 30 – Sat, Sept 25, 2004.
Evenings: 7.45pm; Matinees: Wed & Sat – 2.30pm.
Box Office: 020 8940 0088

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