Association of Community Theatre
Show Reviews - May 2017
HI – DE – HI
Bacup Royal Court Theatre Group
Director Stephen Woods
Jimmy Perry and David Croft’s marvellous television holiday camp sitcom, with its perfectly drawn characters, is now adapted for the stage. Unlike the other TV shows released, the success of Hi – De – Hi was built entirely on the camp's personalities.
The script for this adaptation honours the original format and although there isn’t a storyline as such, it is a collection of vignettes. This puts more of a spotlight onto the interpretation of Peggy, Ted and Jeffrey, etc.
A very workable composite set was provided which allowed the audience to follow the different scenes and which were all linked by the camp staff meetings. The lighting and sound supported the action.
The direction enabled the cast to achieve everything possible from the script. I wondered if maybe a little dip into variety theatre would have fleshed out the concert party that was Maplins.
It must have been a daunting task to take on such loved, and due to the script, exposed characters. As soon as those few notes are played on the xylophone, and Gladys, with her Welsh drawl announces, “Morning campers, Hi – de – Hi” everyone would remember their favourite yellow coat. The audience responded, “Ho – de - Ho”, proving nostalgia always comes up trumps.
Leading the motley crew is the displaced Cambridge Don, Jeffrey Fairbrother played by Michael Haworth. Michael wisely played Jeffrey straight allowing the situations with Gladys, and the team, to find the comedy.
Holiday makers looked to Ted Bovis as the King of Maplin’s. Jordan Barnes more than filled the role. Ted, along with the new trainee comic, Spike, characterised by Guy Gibbs, were a good double act.
All the favourites were part of the fun from Fred Quilly (Patrick Duffy) to Mr “Punch and Judy” Partridge (Garry Haworth), they all made their mark. Lauren Downes, as the hard-done-to Peggy, won the audience over and which give a cheer when the audience members thought that Peggy was eventually to become a Yellow Coat. Part of the holiday camp's entertainment are Yvonne and Barry, the ballroom dancers who have fallen on hard times. Janice Purslow and Kevin Roberts comically brought out the faded glitter and cracked patents of the slow, slow, quick, quick,,slow partnership.
The linchpin of the goings on is Gladys Pugh. Vicky Connolly captured every facet of the Welsh camp sports' organiser who had desires on the hapless Jeffrey.
Other Yellow Coats, and a couple of new faces, Ted’s wife, Hilary (Anne Morgan) and holiday maker, Mr Pritchard (Nick Sands), completed the strong, hardworking cast.
This was an unashamedly nostalgic trip down memory lane. Judging by the smiling faces as they left the theatre, the audience had enjoyed the evening.