By Fanny Charles
IN the annals of television comedy, there are few shows to compare for longevity and popularity with Dad’s Army, Jimmy Perry and David Croft’s affectionate tribute to the Home Guard. You can still see re-runs on some of today’s many television channels, but the show has also acquired a new life as a stage show, and this was chosen as the early spring show for Salisbury’s Studio Theatre.
It’s quite a challenge. At least half the audience members (probably more) know the scripts by heart (and the period songs). And even those of us who don’t know them so well, but are old enough to have seen it first time around, have fond memories of the self-important Captain Mainwaring, the laconic Sgt Wilson, the irritatingly eager Corp Jones, poor young Pte “Stupid boy” Pike, spivvy Pte Walker, always on the look-out for a shady deal and a smart blonde, grouchy Pte Fraser, sweet-natured old Pte Godfrey and the irascible air raid warden.
The Salisbury production, which continues to 16th March, includes four stories, two well-known and two less so, giving the large cast of men and women plenty to do, including morris dancing and choral singing. There is the crew of a German submarine – including their arrogant captain – to be held securely in the church hall overnight. There is Capt Mainwaring’s efforts to drill the female volunteers – with most unexpected results. There is the great Warmington-on-Sea parade, with plans for Lady Godiva to ride through the town. And there are the rehearsals for the new joint platoon-church choral group.
It’s a delight for Dad’s Army fans and great to see so many Studio Theatre actors, of all ages, enjoying their varied roles – including Michael Bowyer’s pompous Capt Mainwaring, Alistair Faulkner’s deliciously laid-back Sgt Wilson, multi-talented Kris Hamilton (recently seen as Charlie’s Aunt) as Walker, Fraser Adams as mummy’s boy Pike, David Taylor as gentle Pte Godfrey, Brian Waddingham as the belligerent air raid warden, Simon Haseley as the German submarine captain and the oily town clerk, Sarah Kirkpatrick as the delightful Mrs Gray in a Brief Encounter-style scene and Sue Tranter as the buxom and flirtatious Mrs Fox.
This is a welcome chance in these dark and stormy days to remember a time when comedy had never encountered political correctness and you could have a laugh and not wonder who you were about to offend.
Picture by Trinity Photography