The Strange Tale of Charlie Chaplin and Stan Laurel written and directed by Paul Hunter
The Birmingham REP Theatre, 25 – 29th February
Touring till 28th March Info: https://www.toldbyanidiot.org/the-strange-tale-of-charlie-chaplin-and-stan-laurel
Runs: 1h 50m, no interval
Tickets: 0121 236 4455
Info and Tickets: https://www.birmingham-rep.co.uk/
Review Rod Dungate 24 Feb 2020
Told By An Idiot is a well-established company; their style is to mix physical theatre, highly fertile imagination and a sense of fun. I suspect they may be an acquired taste; if they are it is a taste worth acquiring – their highly unusual approach to any topic they take on board is always welcome.
The Strange Tale of Charlie Chaplin and Stan Laurel is no exception to this. They have taken the bare bones of a meeting between Charlie Chaplin and Stan Laurel and created a surreal tapestry which explores elements of their films and lives. It is not told in a linear fashion but almost like a strange dream snatching into the mix hints of vaudeville or music hall. This effect is enhanced as the company reflect the nature of the two characters’ early films; there is no spoken dialogue and the event is accompanied by live piano.
We do not, therefore, learn about these two characters, but rather engage with them emotionally; exploring their lives and personalities with our heart rather than our head.
The whole effect is engaging, surprising, funny, amazing and occasionally frustrating and irritating. But it is always good value.
Performances are strong. In particular from Jerone Marsh-Reid’s Stan Laurel and Amalia Vitale as Charlie Chaplin. They have a strong bond between them and their various clownings and gymnastics are a source of great pleasure Much fun is gained from audience participation.
I particularly enjoyed the clog dance, and would have adored to have seen it repeated – but then you can’t always get what you want.
Pianist/Hanah Chaplin (Charlie’s Mother): Sara Alexander
Fred Karno/Charlie’s Dad, Arthur/Savoy Guest/Oliver Hardy/Charlie’s Butler: Nick Haverson
Stan Laurel/Bell Boy/Doctor. Landlord: Jerone Marsh-Reid
Charlie Chaplin: Amalia Vitale
Writer and Director Paul Hunter
Designer Ioana Curelea
Lighting Designer Aideen Malone
Composer Zoe Rahman
Physical Comedy Consultant Jos Houben
Song Arrangement Sophie Cotton
Dance Choreography Nuna Sandy for ZooNation: The Kate Prince Company
Video Designer Dom Baker
Assistant Director Andrea Cabrera Luna
From an idea by Irene Cotton