Wednesday, 24 October 2007

On Stage: Dad's Army - The Missing Episodes. New Theatre, Cardiff

On seeing Dad’s Army: The Lost Episodes starring former EastEnder Leslie Grantham and Emmerdale’s Peter Martin, I could almost hear a distant John Le Mesurier as Sgt Wilson asking “Do you think that’s wise?”

Being a lifelong fan of the Dad's Army TV series, Jimmy Perry and David Croft’s adventures of Walmington-On-Sea’s Home Guard still tickle my funny bone decades on from their original broadcast, but certain rewrites in places could have made this stage presentation flow a lot smoother than it did, particularly between episodes.

Leslie Grantham does shine though, as lovable spiv, Private Walker, injecting the charm and charisma of his own personality into the role originally made famous by James Beck, while Kern Falconer displays the doom and gloom necessary for cantankerous Scotsman Private Frazer, an interpretation that even John Laurie himself would have been proud of.

Peter Martin’s portrayal of Captain Mainwaring doesn’t quite deliver unfortunately, maybe not so much a fault of Martin’s but more for the fact that Mainwaring is forever entwined within the personality of Arthur Lowe, a role the actor very much made his own through 80 TV episodes.

However, criticism aside, this is a rare chance to see an interpretation of two of the three missing shows from the series, A Stripe for Frazer and The Loneliness of The Long Distance Walker, done in the spirit of Dad’s Army even if they lack something of the sparkle of the original.

  • A version of this review by Andy Howells appeared in The South Wales Argus during October 2007

Wednesday, 17 October 2007

In Concert: The Searchers, Newport Riverfront, 2007

The Searchers were among a legion of bands that formed ‘The Mersey Sound’ back in 1963 and followed fellow Liverpudlians The Beatles and Gerry and the Pacemakers straight to the the top of the charts with hits such as Sweets For My Sweet, Don’t Throw Your Love Away and When You Walk In the Room.

Growing up literally a decade after their initial chart success, my awareness of them was a collection of Pye singles from the mid-60’s in my parents record box. I always loved the sound of the jangly guitars and falsetto vocals set against the scratchy popping of well played mono vinyl. There was always something quite magical about the sound of The Searchers

And last night, it was evident the magic was still there as the Searchers played to a packed house at the Riverfront. Long standing members John McNally and Frank Allen were joined by Spencer James and Eddie Rothe and belted out over 45 years worth of hits, b-sides and album tracks plus a few covers. There were many memorable moments including renditions of What Have They Done To The Rain?, Mr Tambourine Man and Roy Orbison’s Running Scared.

It was clear that The Searchers were thoroughly enjoying themselves  and had the audience joining in with the songs wherever possible.The raw energy of their original 1960’s records certainly transformed to the stage and I honestly felt I could smell the original Vinyl
  • A version of this review by Andy Howells was originally published in The South Wales Argus during October 2007.