BWW Reviews: THE SWORD AND THE DOPE, Greenwich Playhouse, January 19 2012
The Sword and The Dope (at Greenwich Playhouse until 5 February) is set a long time ago. This is made clear in the first song which drives the point home at some length - some considerable length. By the end of this magnum opus, not only are we apprised that the show is set some time in the past, but that we are in for an evening in which the gags will come thick and fast with some hitting and some missing. You pays your money and you takes your chance...
For Act-On Productions, writer Michael Horspool and director Matthew Gould have assembled a young cast who sing, dance and deliver an unceasing torrent of jokes, absurdities and anachronisms loosely (very loosely) based on King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table. Performances vary (this is the company's first professional musical) with Will Seward a splendidly camp presence throughout, law-suitingly near the knuckle as a Lynne Franksish PR to Sir Backstabber (you're getting the picture now aren't you?) Jonny Muir makes for a handsome hero and is half of the show's highlight for me - a pitch-perfect parody of the Pet Shop Boys in their 80s pomp.
Though the show is not a panto (Oh no it isn't...), there's a lot of charging about, a lot of enthusiasm and a lot that you really have to forgive because the bigger picture is what matters. And the bigger picture (certainly for the performance I saw) was as many laughs from the stalls as at any show I can recall, from an audience many of whom probably wouldn't attend theatre regularly. And that, like Act-On's work with aspiring actors, can only be a good thing.
(Greenwich Playhouse is scheduled to close in April - read why here. There will be more from me on this proposed termination of one of London's finest fringe venues next month).