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David Porter » Reviews » Scapino


Sewell Barn Theatre, Norwich

Review published in the Eastern Daily Press, 12 July 2008


Comedy well done on stage seems deceptively easy to pull off. In fact it requires special skills in timing, directing and performing.

A rollicking script helps too. This romp from the pen of Frank Dunlop and Jim Dale from the Sixties, rewrites the old Moliere classic and gives Sewell Barn a winner to close their season.

It’s a piece from the top drawer of commedia dell’Arte, the art form that is the father of circus clowning, British panto and Punch and Judy. It also has a hand in slapstick, farce and stand-up.

Scapino is a scamp, a likeable rogue, adept at clever ideas, inspired cunning, deceits and tricks. He’s a forerunner of Baldrick and John Levantis captures him well, even taking a prompt in character.

Stock characters are a trademark of the genre, set in stereotypical situations like love and marriage with misunderstandings and confusions.

Director Trudy McGilvray exploits the quirks of the theatre itself with a team who work increasingly as an ensemble.

Comic lazzi are freely used – a device when something serious goes on like a romantic situation, while a couple of idiots upstage it with something stupid.

One jarring note is the cod Italian accents but they are gradually lost in the waves of comic invention, amusing stage business, funny lines, witty jokes and laughable, zany nonsense. Priceless.

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