Napoleon Disrobed, 4****, London

A comic alternative history
by Told by an Idiot.


Studio 1, the Arcola theatre, 24 Ashwin Street, Dalston, London E8 3DL to 10 March 2018.
Mon-Sat 7.30pm Mat Wed & Sat 3pm.
Runs 75 mins No interval.

TICKETS: 020 7503 1646.
Review: William Russell 19 February.

Deliriously daft & dazzling display

Napoleon, played by Paul Hunter in a red fright wig, swops places with a man called Eugene, played by Ayesha Antoine, and sets off to France to plot his return to power. At least that is what I think happens. This is a hilarious collection of jokes and sight gags played out on a stage which trembles beneath their feet before being turned into one of a dead ringer for one of those instruments which peopled used to employ to dry letters written in ink. That means it rocks this way and that as Hunter and Antoine career hither and thither telling the tale of Napoleon at large, a condition which becomes somewhat perilous when the hapless Eugene dies. There are trapdoors, boiled eggs, frying pans, washing lines – Napoleon hanging out his long johns suffers a nasty experience with the clothes pegs – a baby, which cries at quite the wrong moments, and various members of the audience who get assailed. At one point half the house is on its collective feet wearing paper hats Napoleon style. It is probably about something, although one never knows with plays devised by Told by an Idiot who never attempt to put reality on the stage and specialise in anarchy. Director Kathryn Hunter says it is “about the human condition…in all its pain and glory: both sublime and ridiculous but for all its fragility, a cause for celebration.” She may be right. It is certainly a cause for celebration and arguably one of the funniest shows about the human condition to grace the stage of the Arcola.

Ayesha Antoine.
Paul Hunter.

Director: Kathryn Hunter.
Designer: Michael Vale.
Lighting Designer: Aideen Malone.
Sound Designer: Adrienne Quartly.
Assistant Director: Charlie Todd.
Dramaturgy & Assistant Director: Ragga Dahl Johansen

2018-02-20 09:25:04

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