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Frogs tale just about makes an entertaining leap from Edinburgh to London



Review by David Munro

THE Translucent Frogs is a transfer from the Edinburgh Festival Fringe where it apparently won a prize as best musical.

Not having attended the Festival this year, I cannot comment on the opposition but if last night's effort was anything to go by, it cannot have been very challenging.

This is an unpretentious hour and a half by a pianist and three actors, two male and one female, which sets out to entertain through song dance and speech.

It is not a revue as it has a wisp of a plot about a suburban couple who take their honeymoon by canoe up the Amazon in search of the eponymous frogs.

Save for that, it is very much in revue format, songs, sketches and monologues, sideswipes at pretensions in academia or current life, risqué double entendres, etc.

The evening is opened by Chris Larner (the author) who after a monologue and song on memory loss, which I prefer to forget, then sets the scene for the Amazon trip.

He is joined by Jonathan Robbins, as a suburban Bank clerk, and Rosalie Craig, as his wife, and the story, if as such it can be described, takes off from there.

Chris Larner acts as compere and commentator on the action which gives him the opportunity for scene setting, songs and humorous interpolated comments on the action.

Jonathan Robbins and Rosalie Craig sing and dance twenties pastiche numbers (it is supposed to take place in 1922) and act out little sketches, sending up academic pretensions and their inability to consummate their marriage, the difficulty of communication with other races, and the foibles of the English abroad with skill and good humour.

Jonathan Robbins' attempt to explain to an uncomprehending native that he wants to see a frog by acting out the movements and jumps of the creature was especially memorable.

Surrealism takes over when the actors decide to step out of their characters and have a Pirandello type row inter se which leads into the winding up of the play and the evening.

Set out baldly like this, it all sounds rather dire, which is unfair.

It is undergraduate and naïve in many ways but, as the audience last night proved, it does entertain and is, in its mild way, pleasurable.

Rosalie Craig was undoubtedly mainly responsible for this; her impersonation of a gangly Essex Girl, who discovers sex in the Jungle, was a delight.

She is a comedienne of the first water and I look forward to seeing her again.

The pianist and composer, Mark Stevens, supplied tinkly pastiche tunes and took part in the action when required, passing acerbic comments on the idiocy occurring all round him in a wonderfully dry manner.

I don’t see this show setting the theatrical Thames on fire, but if you want a pleasant after-dinner entertainment then this is for you.

The Translucent Frogs Of Quuup!!. Written and directed by Chris Larner; Music by Mark Stevens; Costumes, Steven Gregory & Denise Silvey; Lighting, TO Robertson.
CAST: Chris Larner; Mark Stevens; Jonathan Robbins; Rosalie Craig.
The New Ambassadors Theatre West Street , London, WC2.
September 9, 11, 13, 15, and 17, 2004, only
Evenings: 7.30pm.
Box Office: 0870 080 6627.

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