Tudor era spoof banishes January blues

If there was ever a cure for those post-Christmas blues that linger on into January, then it comes in the form of Eastern Angles' latest offering - Stoat Hall.

Wednesday, 25th January 2017, 5:54 pm
Stoat Hall. Photo by Mike Kwasniak.

It is on the director’s admission a tongue-in-cheek send-up of the likes of Wolf Hall, which was a big hit on TV last year. And as spoofs go, it has everything - a witty script, great characters and lots of downright silliness.

It is set in the not-so-stately Suffolk Tudor-era home of Sir Roger de Polfrey, where renovations are not going well - cue quick-fire references to TV’s DIY SOS and a whole host of other shows of that ilk, if you can keep up.

That is typical of the humour, cute, smart, a bit silly but generally very cleverly woven into the story. There is even a line or two from Adele which had those in the know nodding in the audience.

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Richard Mainwaring is excellent as the down on his luck noble with an unwanted lineage to the throne - his dream sequence in bed, standing with a pillow strapped to his head and holding a sheet, was a treat. He sets a high bar for some all round terrific performances.

Matt Jopling manages to make an unfunny, insecure and nervy court jester Perch the Fool highly amusing. A secret admirer of one of Sir Roger’s daughter, he gets the laughs he deserves “shaking his love beans” in an attempt to woo his would-be beau.

Geri Allen again excels as the air-headed object of his desire, Rosamund (and her mother Aveline).

The cast switch characters seamlessly and Violet Patton-Ryder is a perfect example. One minute Agnes the grandmother of the clan, who speaketh as though every wordeth was written by her ancestor Geoffrey Chaucer; The next she is cook, all hunched over with a thick accent and a ditty to sing.

Somehow managing to stand out in such great company is Patrick Neyman. His barely seen Herald was a sign of things to come - topped by a very unfeminine, underplayed to perfection daughter Hedwig, complete with beard and hairy chest.

His John The Alchemist, with an endless supply of bodies on the slab, was a hoot, and his over-the-top King Henry VIII owed more than a nod to Rik Mayal’s Captain Flashheart - woosh!

Review: Brad Barnes