by Katie Duncan
The Park Theatre – Park 90, Clifton Terrace, Finsbury Park, London N4 3JP to 26 January
Mon-Sat 7.45pm Mat Thu & Sat 3.15pm
Runs 70 mins. No interval.
TICKETS: 020 7070 0876.
Review: William Russell 4 January.
The roar of the greasepaint, the smell of the crowd
We are well and truly in Archie Rice territory in this undeniably spell binding monologue Katie Duncan has devised for her father of Blue Peter fame, himself the son of seaside and pantomime entertainers. Duncan gives a power house performance as Ronald Roy Humphrey, an ageing comic playing pantomime dame in a theatre which like him has seen better days. Bewigged and in quite the most outrageous of gowns, which he gradually removes, he recalls the past glories, what dames are meant to be, of playing summer shows in Perrot costume, removes the war paint and the wig, curses the doorman urging everyone to go home over the tannoy and ignores what he thinks is just another fan letter left on his makeup table. It is a fascinating tale sensitively directed by Ian Talbot about a family working hard, driven by whatever it is that inspires entertainers, in which Roy recalls how his mother simply walked away one day leaving him with his bully of a father – and he never knew why. Osborne’s Archie Rice does come to mind, although much of the material seems to be drawn from the Duncan family past and folk memories of all those seaside theatres at the end of the pier which used to line the coasts of the land. No matter, the result is a sparkling show case for Peter Duncan in which he glitters superbly. The show was launched at the Edinburgh fringe to acclaim and fully deserves this London season. Duncan is moving, funny and sad as the old man whose glory days are long gone but he still keeps right on to the end of the road as troupers do. The letter is, of course, eventually opened with unexpected results.
Ronald Roy Humphrey: Peter Duncan.
Director: Ian Talbot.
Set Design: Peter Humphrey.
Lighting Design: James Smith.
Sound Recordings and effects: Georgia Duncan.
Costumes: Duncan Reeves Ltd.
Movement Consultant: Amit Lahav.
Photographs: Gordon Render & Robert Workman.