Dropping into the charming Dibble Tree theatre is an experience that never escapes to bring you joy and joy was in the dram-ful at their rib tickling take on ‘Whisky Galore’.
Adapted by Paul Godfrey from the novel by Compton Mackenzie the show was produced for this run by Paul Strachan.
It is styled as a radio play in which Victor Dorian (Jamie Robertson), Fanny Fairway (Nikki Doig), Sir Godfrey Widdlemore (Grant Wilson) and Barrington (Barry) Buddon (George Doherty) are well dressed actors performing ‘Whisky Galore’ in a 1940s BBC drama studio.
It is not often that sound effects steal the show but I can attest that without them, this show would have been a fraction of the funny.
Euphemia Singleton played by the ever expressive Audrey Doherty, emphatically punctuates each phrase and scene with a plethora of wonderful and often ridiculous effects. Adding to the amusement is being able to watch her intense pleasure and increasingly flustered attempts to keep up with the speedy script. My fellow audience members reached at least one guffaw each.
Set in the whisky droughted plains of the Hebridean Island of Todday in the clutches of WW2, the play follows the action as a drunken cargo runs ashore.
The production is clever, not least in Robertson’s narrator portrayal. Oft a cumbersome part he negotiates it discreetly but with just the right amount of emphasis, adding even more amusement to the already laughter drenched crowd. As for Wilson, Doherty and Doig. Hats off. Quite literally.
To alleviate audience confusion around which ‘actor’ was playing which character a forethinking Strachan used a different hat as well as a different accent. This started in hat swapping at natural breaks but by the middle of Act Two Doig was left to stand behind Wilson and flip his head gear for him as he deftly swilled whisky while switching between two, maybe three characters, each time changing accent, demeanour and dialogue. This is but one example.
Doherty and Doig also entered into such capers with impressive regularity. A particular mention to the vocal dexterity of George Doherty who at one point switched from full East London to Hebridean shepherd to central belt pompous Scottish, and back again.
Now a word of warning, the play is fast. There are four people who play approximately 4,000 characters (exaggeration permitting). Keeping up is tricky, and I would advise that at no point you try to write down exactly who plays what and how they are related. Sit back and be led by the enthusiastic audience prompts held loftily and frantically by jobsworth Euphemia. Also keep an eye on those in the background. There is more going on at the BBC than first meets the eye…