Dad's Army Lunch Hour
David Benson and Jack Lane produced by James Seabright
Pleasance at EICC
Dad's Army is something of an institution these days, and while most people remember every episode, it's a wonderful thing to be reminded of. Which is why the idea of Dad's Army Lunch Hour, Dinner Hour or indeed Afternoon Tea hour, was such a good concept.
Working from the radio adaptations of the show, the audience are treated to rendition of two classic episodes: "Round and Round Went The Great Big Wheel" and "The Deadly Attachment".
Fringe regular David Benson and Jack Lane take it between themselves to perform every one of the cast in these plays, and blimey, if they don't do a bloody good job of it. From the stern bumbling of Captain Mannering, to the rolling Rs of private Fraser, every single voice is captured with sincere and loving accuracy.
But, while the mimicry at work is seamless and absolutely retains the spirit of the show, the setting and indeed the set-up left more than a little to be desired. While it probably seemed like a fine idea to run the gig from a long plastic marquee tent, erecting such a structure simply created a heat trap, which had so many ageing bodies crammed into it that by the mid-point people were starting to flag, and I'm not talking about the bunting!
With half the audience sat at tables and the others on benches filling the entire place, it certainly had the feel of being at some dreadful town gala disaster, only one you couldn't get back out of once you were inside, rather like being in the guts of a jolly English countryside submarine.
Moreover, since there was an included meal, at least for those who had opted for it, it meant that 10-15 minutes of the runtime was devoted to serving plates of bangers and mash to the tables and letting people eat before the showmen returned. Which meant for the remaining benches of people, there was nothing much to do except try to awkwardly shuffle out of the tent amidst the other elders, and try not to trip or fall.
As a result, by the time the second half had wound up, everyone was literally breathing a sigh of relief to get out of the place. A pity, as the performance was top notch, let down by an uncomfortable and impractical staging.
Reviewer: Graeme Strachan