Four Go Off On One! A Jolly Good Romp Through Childhood

Mon 7th – Sun 27th August 2017

reviews

James Tibbles

at 12:29 on 24th Aug 2017

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‘Four Go Off On One’ is an intelligently written show that weaves the material of children’s adventure books like ‘The Famous Five’ and ‘The Railway Children’ into a farce that beams with nostalgia. This comedy show is not all side-splitting laughter, but it is nonetheless witty and lovingly written. Robert Eyers has created a joyous romp through all the tropes and tricks of children’s literature in a thoroughly professional and entertaining production.

Two omniscient narrators (Ruby Morris and Toby Waterworth) furnish the stage throughout, guiding the audience through a typical adventure story featuring the “well-known four”. Morris and Toby give the show a captivating opening and glue the narrative together with satisfying coherency. Even terrible puns about crabs and ironic commentary on the plot incite a string of titters and groans – Eyers sets free the suppressed pun-lovers in us all!

Within the main plot a childish sense of humour combines with an adult self-awareness. John, George, Dick and Sue embark on a quest to unveil a villain while defying their uncle’s wishes. In search of a Fishing Pier the children journey away from their home and encounter all sorts of implausible experiences taken from childhood classics. Equally, a smattering of contemporary political references adds to the gratifying mix of farcical call-backs, refrains and eccentric sequences. Not only is the play itself absurd, but it throws light onto the absurd unchallenged tropes of children’s literature. The innocent ignorance of a child’s mind is smashed into tiny pieces of madness.

Whether the humour is your cup of tea or not, this production is inarguably blessed with an incredible cast and creative team. There is no weak link, with every actor fully committing to their roles in physicality and voice. Until I was told to search Cam Dram after the show, I thought I was watching a group of professional actors! The energy and commitment of the cast surpasses the level of any student show I have ever seen. Millie Foy has done an incredible job at shaping a show that is ludicrously high energy and fast-paced. She has also clearly worked closely with Jamie Fenton, the technical director, to create impressively coherent technical sequences that are masterfully executed.

This show is an indulgent guilty pleasure of beautifully British farce. It is sometimes hard to follow and the jokes aren't all wit and bite, but that is just the nature of this kind of comedy. If you are looking for a nostalgic afternoon delight then ‘Four Go Off On One’ is worth a shot. But be warned, you may never experience a children’s adventure story the same way again.

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