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Charlie And Stan - Theatre Royal Bath Review

Charlie And Stan - Theatre Royal Bath Review 
Prepare yourself to see theatre like you’ve never seen before with the amazing Charlie and Stan, a silent comedy which tells the story of Charlie Chaplin and Stan Laurel who might have gone on to be the greatest double-act in the world had fate not decreed otherwise. In 1910 the then two unknown performers sailed from Liverpool to New York as part of Fred Karno’s famous music hall company sharing a cabin, a mutual love of crazy comedy and a desire to become famous but by the end of the journey went their separate ways.

The performance is without any spoken words, although in the real tradition of silent movies, there is piano, sometimes a song and those old fashioned title cards that used to appear on cinema screens of the “Oh no, the train is coming” variety, very cleverly executed by Dominic Baker the projection designer. Danielle Bird makes an excellent portrayal of Charlie, not an out and out impersonation but she has nailed the little man’s expression and the character he eventually became with his signature bowler hat and cane. She’s also light as a feather and made of India rubber as some of her physical stunts suggest i.e. dangling from one of the side boxes without a care in the world. Jerone Marsh-Reid is great as the young Stan before he was Stan as you might say, and the seeds of the lovable nitwit that made Stan Laurel his fortune are all there. He, too, is a great dancer, including a slick tap routine.

Nick Haverson has a big job to do playing a collection of roles, including the ostentatious Mr Fred Karno himself and Charlie’s snooty butler but his finest hour was when he morphed into Oliver Hardy with only a false moustache and a pillow to plump up the illusion. On the side he’s also a highly competent drummer. Sara Alexandra plays Charlie’s mother, and she’s a terrific pianist and mostly responsible for the music content.

Interest is kept with the set played on difference levels and flashbacks in time as the story is told; the small amount of audience participation was fun (thank goodness it wasn’t me!) and as the show runs for some 80 minutes with no interval it’s a testament to the excellent cast that they keep you keen and involved right down to the last seconds. It’s very different and we loved it.

Jacquie Vowles

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