prosthetics at ten paces, glitzy jackets and some of the cleverest
material ever written, the songs of genteel American satirist Tom
Lehrer lived again in this brisk production by one of Cheltenham's
newer theatre troupes.
of the cleverest material ever written...
Hoc's fond tribute to Mr. Lehrer's incisive jibes at the world around
him, especially at such revered United States institutions as the
army, the Ivy League, folk songs and animal husbandry, began with
his irreverent homage to the Scout movement, Be Prepared, a singularly
appropriate choice, following the cancellation of the opening night
performance, when a touch of laryngitis forced baritone Allan Gillespie's
eleventh hour withdrawal.
nil desperandum: nature and exceptional talent abhor a vacuum and
having regrouped around the piano, played by silver-fingered virtuoso
Jackie Adams, Paul Scott's versatile troubadours came out fighting,
having fashioned some hasty revisions to cover Gillie's absence
and put aficionados of Mr. Lehrer in seventh heaven.
was an uproariously amusing opportunity to discover what you've
been missing all these years...
unenlightened souls who may not be familiar with the Harvard University
mathematician's lyrical subtleties and caustic wit, this was an
uproariously amusing opportunity to discover what you've been missing
all these years, as well realise that it is perfectly possible to
amuse an audience without resorting to sexual crudities or relentless
will argue that Mr. Lehrer's erudite odes have become like champagne
that has lost its sparkle, and that the topicality of his songs
has long exceeded its sell-by date, especially in the decidedly
un-PC National Brotherhood Week.
maybe, but intelligent humour is evergreen, and in the hands of
the cognoscenti, a splendid evening's entertainment celebrating
genius of the first order is guaranteed.
the bright college days that inspired many of Lehrer's compositions,
Tomfoolery is best viewed as one would regard one's own years at
the alma mater: still glorious long after they have receded into
like New Maths, Silent E, Pollution and So Long, Mom should nonetheless
strike chords with more recent generations.
their contingency plan firmly in place, Ad Hoc amply demonstrated
their credentials in a whistlestop tour of around two dozen of Lehrer's
Jon Dyer was the principal log on this blazing fire, while better
half Sarah, when not serenading us with her soaring soprano tones,
showcased her awesome dancing skills in the unforgettable Masochism
Tango, the hilarious Wienerschnitzel Waltz, as well as bringing
some Latin glamour to In Old Mexico.
Scott's deadpan delivery, which has all but become his trademark,
crowned the evening...
of a sleazy Berlin night club were evoked by Judi Allan's deliciously
seductive rendition of Wernher von Braun, while Paul Scott's deadpan
delivery, which has all but become his trademark, crowned the evening
in the excruciatingly funny I Hold Your Hand In Mine, as white-coated
Jon Dyer hovered and crooned dangerously behind.
ensemble work was equally spicy, most notably in the enthrallingly
subversive Vatican Rag, and We Will All Go Together When We Go,
Lehrer's doom-laden anthem to a nuclear holocaust which finally
rang down the curtain on this nostalgic farrago, at which point
the discerning audience, who had endured the severest difficulty
in resisting the temptation to join in, began clamouring for the
songs which didn't find their way into Cameron Mackintosh's final
down they may have been, but, as the phrase has it, the show must
go on, and thank goodness this one did.
was performed by The Ad Hoc Theatre Company at The Playhouse in
Cheltenham, 16th - 19th March 2005.
by Simon Lewis
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