‘Allo ‘Allo

Gainford Drama Club has a reputation for staging high quality productions and their most recent offering ‘Allo ‘Allo was no exception.  The play, written by Jeremy Lloyd and David Croft, is based on their hugely popular TV series, and follows the adventures of René, the hapless café owner in war-torn occupied France, as he and his wife, Edith, struggle to keep for themselves a priceless portrait stolen by the Nazis and endeavour to repatriate two British airmen with the help of the Resistance.Allo-Allo-3

This is a difficult play to stage even in a large theatre so to present this large cast play, eighteen players in total, with its frequent set changes on such a small stage proved quite a challenge, however, the scene changes were managed very smoothly by the airmen, played by Paul Richardson and John Robinson.  The role of René is pivotal and this was played very ably by John Chadwick.  Joan White as his wife Edith, was able to show her skill at singing and dancing during her cabaret performances which were clearly enjoyed by the audience and they were both well supported by waitresses Yvette and Mimi played by Maria Lowcock and Claire Bell. Special mention should be made of Maria’s performance as this was her acting debut and she shows much promise for the future.

It was good to see Paul Illingworth returning to the stage as the vain Capt. Alberto Bertorelli and his attempts to seduce Helga (Kate Nichols) in the back row of the cinema being thwarted by Herr Otto Flick (Tom Brown) disguised as an usherette provided one of the funniest scenes in the play.  Michelle ‘listen very carefully, I shall say this only once’ was played by Emma Simpson, making her debut on the Gainford stage, with a superb French accent which paralleled that of Crabtree (hilariously played by Allan Jones) the ‘poloceman’, who managed to keep up his “franglais” throughout the play – not an easy task.  Lawrence Chandler as Colonel Von Strohm, John Robinson as a very sinister looking General Von Schmelling, Michael Sillars as M. Leclerc and Chris Allock as Lieut. Gruber all gave accomplished performances in their supporting roles.  Lighting and sound effects were provided each night by John Lowery.

Allo-Allo-2The play was directed by Joan Hillery-Robinson, assisted by Ronnie Lowery and was a complete sell-out for the ten-night run which included a ‘charity’ night in support of Help For Heroes raising £1300 for the charity.