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A CurtainUp London Review
Round the Horne . . . . Revisited
by Lizzie Loveridge
Kenneth Williams (Robin Sebastian) had a large following partly due to his appearances in the British Carry On films of the same era. His own inimitable style of improvised hurt pride and camp suggestion laid the foundation for modern gay comics such as Julian Clary and Graham Norton. Kenneth Horne (Jonathan Rigby) on the other hand was largely Williams' straight man but with a magnificent deep gravy browning voice.
In a set which resembles a broadcasting studio of 1964, all stand up microphones and cables, five presenters front two episodes of the half hour comedy show Round the Horne. Betty Marsden (Kate Brown) is called upon to impersonate every wide eyed female from dowager duchess, Dame Celia Molestrangler, to Australian moral reformer, Judy Coolibah, to breathy lover, Fiona. Nigel Harrison takes on Hugh Paddick's roles who, with Williams, completed the "Hello Julian, Hello Sandy" duet. Douglas Smith's (Charles Armstrong) actor manqué is a ham foil for Williams to berate for Smith's complete lack of acting talent.
The impersonations are impressive and some of the jokes have been rewritten to include references to the modern day (and also I suspect to cut out some of the more crass jokes which were ok in 1964 but are not politically ok forty years later). Robin Sebastian has prima donna Kenneth Williams to a T, down to his flaring nostrils and upturned profile. The audience delighted to the images at the Bona school of cookery from "upside down tart" to "gnocchi and mince". They giggled at Kenneth Williams as folk song aficionado Rumbling Syd Rumpo who collects gems of rural folk song with ridiculous lyrics. There are Mr J Peasmold Gruntfutock's gardening notes and Mills and Boon lovers Charles and Fiona for ever expressing their passion, so expressive yet inexpressible.
I did notice some of the younger generation who had either been dragged along by parents or who were giving their parents a treat night out, but on the whole this show will only be enjoyed by those who remember and cherish the real thing.
Mendes at the Donmar
Peter Ackroyd's History of London: The Biography
Somewhere For Me, a Biography of Richard Rodgers
At This Theater
Ridiculous!The Theatrical Life & Times of Charles Ludlam
The New York Times Book of Broadway: On the Aisle for the Unforgettable Plays of the Last Century
6, 500 Comparative Phrases including 800 Shakespearean Metaphors by CurtainUp's editor.
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