Frank Sumatra

Mike Yeaman
Dromedary Productions in partnership with Alphabetti Theatre and N16 Theatre
Theatre N16

Hannah Walker as Bev, Pip Chamberlin as Keith and Dean Logan as Frank Credit: Graeme Thompson
Hannah Walker as Bev, Dean Logan as Frank and Pip Chamberlin as Keith Credit: Graeme Thompson

Frank Sumatra is under an hour long but it is hilariously funny. It is a different take on bringing up baby—and this time the infant is an orangutan who turns up on Bev and Keith’s doorstep, fortuitously when they are in the middle of trying for a baby.

Keith wants to ring the police, RSPCA, whoever to take him away but his wife Bev has already developed a soft spot for the orange bundle of fur. It is only after he has settled in and they have named him Frank that they realise he’s actually the orphan animal they sponsored and then forgot about, now a rapidly growing delinquent.

It is presented in the form of a radio broadcast with a studio audience, complete with the usual warm-up. It is delivered mainly to microphones with Dean Logan (who plays Frank) doing most of the foley work in the background, apart from some foot effects from his colleagues. Scene links are provided by Frank’s almost namesake Ol’ Blue-eyes, all carefully chosen numbers that keep the comic ball in the air.

Hannah Walker and Pip Chamberlin are beautifully paired as the couple coping (or not) with Logan’s roaring boy primate, as he takes over their lives. No details—to give them would spoil it—and there is not one but two twists at the end.

In Neil Armstrong’s production, laughs are shared between story and radio staging. Writer Mike Yeaman could probably have made more of those final story developments but doesn’t push the idea too far and sends you home wanting more and still laughing.

Frank Sumatra was commissioned by the Queen’s Hall Hexham and that earlier production was reviewed on tour in 2015.

Reviewer: Howard Loxton