BWW Reviews: GMT Productions International - Inaugural Theatre Season: BOND! AN UNAUTHORISED PARODY Pokes Gentle and Witty Fun at the Almost Self-Parodying Spy Series

Reviewed Tuesday 8th October 2013

Written and performed by Gavin Robertson, with Nicholas Collett's direction keeping up the pace and ensuring that there is plenty of physical comedy to go with the words, we find an aged, or perhaps almost decrepit, secret agent 007 dragged out of retirement to fight an unknown villain, the clue being a cryptic poem and the threat of a bomb set to kill millions. What is the geriatric James to do? Why, tone up and go back to work, of course.

This is the Australian premiere of this new work but, with one performance in England, two months ago at the Bedford Fringe, it does not miss being the world premiere by much. With a limited run of six performances here, it will, for the time being at least, be the longest run this production has had in any theatre, if that counts.

Bond! An Unauthorised Parody, finds the man with all the technical gadgets, the smart answers, and a string of girls with extraordinary names passing through his bed, facing the greatest challenge of his career as he hunts for the super-villain and the bomb. But who can the dastard be, and what can he want with James Bond, specifically stating that this is the only agent who has a chance to defeat him.

It is not the man with the cat, nor is it La Chiffon, as evil, powerful, and dangerous as they might be. No, there is a new mastermind, lurking somewhere in The Shadows behind them, controlling their every move. Who could this ultimate Nemesis be? Why, none other than Bond's creator, Ian Fleming. Why he wants to challenge Bond, and how it all plays out, is explained in this hilarious production in which Gavin Robertson plays all of the characters, from Bond, M, and Miss Moneypenny, and all the villains, through to the obligatory almost naked "dolly bird".

Robertson used only three, self-supporting, rectangular steel frames for his entire set, moving them around to become doors, windows, roads, cars, desks, and a host of other objects, some of which would spoil the fun if I told you about them.

Robertson's fertile imagination has come up with a script and performance that encompasses so much of the Bond genre, but all slightly tweaked to take it just that extra bit further to turn it into comedy. The films almost parody themselves anyway, so this is fair game.

There are puns, jokes, clichés, double entendres galore, physical comedy, and a plethora of references to a host of things, a mere moment of Marcel Marceau, as Bond tries to escape a room filling with water, for instance, being enough to draw laughter from the appreciative and attentive audience.

This is English comedy at its best, clever, subtle, intelligent, but combined with great theatrical skills so that the comedy is not just on the surface but resonates in numerous ways, far beyond the Bond films. Yes, the famous James Bond Theme, written by Monty Norman and arranged by John Barry, is there but, when a diamond is stolen, it is Henry Mancini's Pink Panther theme that plays, reminding us that the first film in that series was about the theft of a diamond known as the Pink Panther. I did say that this was clever, as well as extremely funny. Do not despair, though, because not making that connection is not important. You will still laugh at that scene because it is intrinsically very funny. Those who catch on to the references and make the connections will simply realise just how clever Robertson's script really is, and add a knowing nod of approval to their laughter.

Robertson switches to and fro between characters, occasionally conversing with himself in two roles at once, and even engaging in an amorous embrace with, well, himself. You will be amazed, or at least in serious danger of moist underwear, at the exciting car chase as Bond, in his Aston Martin DB4, chases a villain, in his Citroen 2CV, along dangerously narrow mountain roads, skidding and sliding perilously close to The Edge, all live on stage.

There is never a dull moment in this performance as Robertson darts around the stage as one of his characters chases after another, he constantly recreates the environment by moving the three metal structures, and flips between characters in the blink of an eye.

Stephen Dean, Adelaide lighting whiz, handled the very complex lighting plot with perfect timing and, in the true spirit of theatre, Nicholas Collett handled the sound, as Robertson does for Collett's performances. The technical side ran like a Swiss watch, complementing Robertson's incredible performance. Adelaide audiences should consider themselves very lucky this month.

This production, like all of the plays in this season of great theatre, is suitable for families as there is no bad language, nudity, or any of those other things that seem to appear so often as warnings nowadays. This is good, wholesome fun but, there is one warning, that you might have a sore rib or two from laughing.

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From This Author Barry Lenny