ROUND THE HORNE
The latest of the classic radio comedies to hit the stage is Round The Horne. The original show ran on BBC Radio between 1965 and 1968 and, in its prime, regularly attracted an audience of 15 million for half an hour every Sunday afternoon. Recreations of iconic productions often fall foul of the criticism of loyal fans, but this version of the British comedy perfectly resurrects the camp and innuendo-filled humour.
The success of this stage version is, simply, in its similarity to the classic. Producer and director Tim Astley has compiled scripts from the original broadcasts to take the audience on a trip down memory lane. The original show has a special place in the heart of British showbiz, and with this new version, fans can rejoin the regular characters Rambling Sid Rumpo, Charles and Fiona, J. Peasemold Gruntfuttock, and Julian and Sandy – all played by actors who sound uncannily like the original cast members.
The original Round The Horne lasted for four series; a planned fifth was cancelled in 1969 after the death of its star, Kenneth Horne. By this point, television was superseding radio in the household entertainment stakes. However, Astley has succeeded in combining the radio elements with an innovative visual show, with the actors dressed and the set designed to match the setting of the radio programme. The show features the traditional movie spoofs, including a nod to James Bond, and its fabled manipulation of the English language will appear, innumerable double entendres and all, the visual element only bolstering the hilarious absurdity of the script. If the humour might come across as outdated to younger generations, it all adds to the charm of the nostalgic hark back to the 1960s.
Although the stage production offers a chance for old fans of Round The Horne to reminisce on an era of radio greatness, it’s also entertaining and self-contained enough to appeal to first-time viewers. So, if you’re suffering from winter blues, pop along to any of three Welsh dates for a celebration of classic British comedy. REBECCA ASTILL
New Theatre, Cardiff, Tues 18 + Wed 19 Feb; Torch Theatre, Milford Haven, Thurs 20 Feb; Savoy Theatre, Monmouth, Fri 21. Tickets: from £16.50. Info: www.apollotheatrecompany.com