Phil Lowe's Blogspot

'Hits the stage running!'

Currently on tour across the UK Warwick Davis's talented group of actors (The Reduced Height Theatre Company) hits the Derby Theatre stage running with their fantastically silly farce – See How They Run by Philip King.

Originally written and played in the 1940s this production stays true to the period style with its costumes created by Top Drawer Costume Service and set designed and adapted by Barney George who recently created and designed the set for Derby Theatre's theatrical triumph – The Odyssey.

Of course, as well as the popularity of the farce that has been performed around the world since its conception the main draw for this show is the versatile and talented actor Warwick Davis, known mainly for his roles in film and television and now on stage live. The audience laps up every moment he appears as Reverend Toop and he is very funny throughout, especially so when skittering through the vicarage in his undies. When broad comedy is done this well it seems almost effortless but I know from talking to Warwick that an awful lot of hard work has gone into making the production the soar away success it is. The wonderful cast seem to be having as much fun as the audience.

The delight of this production is that plot wise it allows the remainder of the cast to shine whilst Toop is temporarily locked away in a cupboard with a drunk Miss Skillon (beautifully played by Francesca Papagno). Davis wanted the production to show off the talents of his actors and it does so in spades.

There are lots of memorable performances including Rachel Denning as Penelope Toop the former actress and flirtatious wife of Rev Toop. Her scenes with Phil Holden as Lance Corporal Clive Winton are comedy heaven as are her caustic comments about the interfering Miss Skillon.

The comic hit of the show has to be Francesca Mills as Ida the Maid. Every time she appears and disappears and quickly re-appears again through some entrance or other her stage presence shines out and her Ida must be rated as one of the funniest performances I have ever seen on stage. If should a thing were possible I think that there must have been a collective grin from the audience at each of her comical arrivals. Her timing is spot on and her expressive and 'farcical' body language is hilarious.

With a cast of nine the Reduced Height Theatre Company set the stage on fire with their energy. Davis has compiled a cast of experienced actors such as the marvellous Jon Key as the frightfully flustered Bishop of Lax and Raymond Griffiths as the German intruder. Alongside these theatre stalwarts he has Jamie John as a slightly camp Rev Arthur Humphrey and multi-talented Peter Bonner as the blustering Sergeant Towers. The play is directed with gusto by Eric Potts.

One of the signs of a super show is that you are still giggling the day after seeing it. I think I will be giggling for weeks. Here's to the entire cast of the Reduced Height Theatre Company and to their next success. Run to the box office and get your tickets now before it sells out. Run!!!