Theatre review: Stamford Shakespeare Company’s Dad’s Army

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“Don’t panic!” Yes, Stamford Shakespeare Company’s stage version of TV’s Dad’s Army more than does justice to the classic comedy.

If you haven’t been to a production by Stamford Shakespeare Company at the Rutland Open Air Theatre at Tolethorpe Hall, you really should try to get there at some point this summer, writes Mel Biggadike.

It was the hottest day of the year so far so we had to seek shade under a tree in the beautiful grounds for our picnic before the show started, but the weather wouldn’t affect your enjoyment as it’s also possible to make use of the very pretty orangery before the performance.

The auditorium itself, which seats 600, is covered for the audience’s protection, with only the stage being open air.

We went to see a matinee performance of Dad’s Army (The Lost Episodes).

The classic BBC TV comedy series of the Home Guard of Walmington-on-Sea has been adapted for the Tolethorpe stage brilliantly with all its favourite and well-loved characters, including “Stupid boy” Pike, “They don’t like it up ‘em” Jonesey, “We’re all doomed!” Frazer, and “May I be excused, sir?” Godfrey, all under the command of the formidable Captain Mainwaring and the more modest deputy Sargeant Wilson.

Being a fan of the famous wartime comedy from Jimmy Perry and David Croft, I must admit I went with some trepidation about how well those loveable characters would transfer to the stage. I had nothing to worry about.

The pompous charm of principal character, Home Guard Captain Mainwaring, was captured effortlessly by Richard Abel, who recreated those amusing idiosyncrasies made famous by Arthur Lowe.

Special mention must also be given to Jed Jaggard for his portrayal of mummy’s boy Private Pike. Again, the likeness was uncanny.

My particular favourite though was Kerry Leveson’s Corporal Jones. His performance was so convincing, that Clive Dunn himself would have been proud.

I thoroughly enjoyed the performance which featured too many laugh-out-loud moments to mention. I thought it was super that during the interval the actors playing Private Pike and Private Walker were interacting with the children and giving them ration books, which in the extreme heat and with full uniform on was a grand gesture indeed.

The set, uniforms and wartime songs were used cleverly and all worked a treat.

To book tickets, call the box office on 01780 756133 or visit www.stamfordshakespeare.co.uk