Round the Horne, New Theatre Cardiff

A pitch-perfect portrayal of the BBC radio comedy show that wowed a generation from 1965 with a mixture of wit, chaotic hilarity and innuendo, this theatre reproduction of Round the Horne provides a night of fun that sent hoots of laughter around the theatre.

With fans old and new (thanks to regular re-runs on Radio 4Extra today), the show stays true to its roots, using original scripts by Barry Took and Marty Feldman and featuring favourite characters such as ‘Julian and Sandy’ and ‘Charles & Fiona’ – who received appreciative whoops of expectation from the experienced audience who knew what was coming.

“Close your eyes and you’re taken right back there, listening to it on the wireless…” chuckled an audience-member of a certain age during the interval of Round the Horne in Cardiff’s New Theatre last night.

I’m sure that’s true. But don’t close your eyes at this show. Not least because you’ll miss the exquisite facial expressions pulled by Kenneth Williams (Colin Elmer).

The stage is set as the radio recording studio would have been – with five chairs, four microphones and the sound effects people to the side.

Director Tim Astley follows the format that the original radio show would have taken, with a mix of regular characters performing sketches, plus a movie spoof (in this case a James Bond parody, Kenneth Horne: Master Spy) and various musical interludes, including Rambling Syd Rumpo, Kenneth Williams’ folk singer who sings recognisable folk songs but with the lyrics changed into rude-sounding innuendo (which might not make sense, but is close enough to the knuckle to knock anyone of a prudish disposition sideways – whilst making the rest of us snort with laughter.)

We absolutely lapped up and loved Colin Elmer’s intuitive and hilarious portrayal of Kenneth Williams (easy to see why his one-man show Cult Figure: Kenneth Williams was such a success). Alex Scott Fairley as Hugh Paddick was versatile and engaging in all his many and varied roles, and Eve Winters as Betty Marsden brought colour and vibrancy to the stage. Tom Capper as Douglas Smith introduced comedy to the role of straight-laced announcer as he dropped in advertisements for Dobbiroids Horse Rejuvenators to supplement his poor income.

Central to the stage and the action – Julian Howard Mcdowall is excellent as Kenneth Horne – understated, calm and dry but incredibly funny, and the perfect foil to the rumbustiousness of the rest of the cast.

Rachel Davies (what a voice!) and Anthony Coote who make up the duo Java Jive provided musical interludes as well as sound effects and added to the feel-good factor of the night.

Round the Horne is at the New Theatre Cardiff for two nights only. So tune in and get your tickets for this radio comedy classic quick! Visit www.newtheatrecardiff.co.uk

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