Theatre review: Fred and Madge at the Hope Theatre

Pic 1: Jodyanne Richardson (Madge) and Jake Curran (Fred)
Pic 2: Jodyanne Richardson
Pic 3: An

Pic 1: Jodyanne Richardson (Madge) and Jake Curran (Fred) Pic 2: Jodyanne Richardson Pic 3: Andy Brock (Dr Petrie), Loz Keystone (Mrs Oldbourne), Jodyanne Richardson (Madge), Jake Curran (Fred), Jordan Mallory-Skinner (Webber) - Credit: Archant

Orton’s first attempt at a full-length play wasn’t acknowledged by him. He always insisted that Ruffian on the Stair was his first play but he had concealed five years of his life – during which this play was written but was never performed or published.There are clear influences of N F Simpson and Theatre of the Absurd.

It begins conventionally with Fred and Marge, a suburban married couple who have run out of conversation and are bored with their existence, despite their jobs which they consider worthwhile and are well paid.

We see them at work. Fred’s job is to push a huge ball up an incline and then let it roll down, while Madge spends her days with a sieve filtering water in a bath.

It is when the director and other actors appear that the revelation comes. We are actually watching a play being created before our eyes.

The cast are working on several levels and though the play starts off mildly crazy it gathers momentum in lunacy as it continues.

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Christopher Hone’s setting consists of moveable pieces –a standard lamp, French window frames that get moved about the stage to give different perspectives, floor boards which can be taken up to reveal props (and occasionally used to hide actors).

Luckily this crazy piece of theatre is being performed by a crazier group of players – most of whom have been in other productions by The Rough Haired Pointer company whose hilarious version of Diary of a Nobody ran at the Kings head.

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Led by director Mary Franklin, the familiar faces belong to Jordan Mallory-Skinner a wildly talented and versatile actor, Fred is played by Jake Curran, Madge by Judyanne Richardson and her friend Queenie by Geordie Wright.

The rest of the cast play everything else – men, women, elephants and professional insulters. There are positively no holds barred with this insane and thoroughly entertaining group of players.

If you like to laugh, and love crazy comedy like the Goons, Monty Python etc. This is definitely for you.

Rating: 4/5 stars

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