BLACKADDER GOES FORTH.
HARLOW THEATRE COMPANY.
From the Director:
One hundred years ago this week, an armistice was signed in a railway carriage in Compiegne. It brought to an end a four-year was expected, in August 1914, to be 'over by Christmas', but which went on to kill sixteen million people and herald unprecedented social and political change.
Seventy years after the armistice, authors Richard Curtis and Ben Elton presented their take on the events of 1914-18. Familiar characters from previous Blackadder series were thrown together in a Flanders trench to create a classic TV sitcom adored by millions and repeated on-screen regularly to this day.
Despite its popularity, some historians, social commentators and even politicians have criticised Blackadder Goes Forth for presenting an over-simplified, trivialised and even disrespectful view of a war that was anything but comical. They ask: 'doesn't think kind of "dramedy" denigrate the values of patriotism and courage and take a cheap political shot at the shambolic leadership of an out-of-touch elite'?
Hmmm... food for thought.
As the director of this stage version of the show and one who is profoundly grateful for the sacrifices made by so many for so many millions of benefiting future generations, let me offer an alternative point of view.
Comedy's prime function is to make us laugh, of course, but its use as a legitimate means of delivering a serious and otherwise hard-to-take message goes back to the ancient Greeks. For Shakespeare, it became an instrument for exploring sensitive areas of human existence and 'black comedy' or 'gallows humour' helps make light of heavy subject matter otherwise too painful to discuss seriously at length. Isn't it an honest expression of strong emotions that might otherwise elude political discourse? A kind of coping mechanism allowing us to reflect on events that just should not have happened?
Bad taste in humour surely occurs when its aim is to inflict cruelty rather than respect. When Blackadder goes forth he exposes not only the horrors and futilities of trench warfare but also the indomitable spirit of the common man.
This production by Harlow Theatre Company is presented both to entertain and to commemorate the heroes and she-roes. With a little sugar to help the medicine go down, it's good to remember and to tell the story for those who can no longer speak it themselves.
Captain Edmun Blackadder - Clive Weatherly
Private S Baldrick - Paul Stephenson
Lieutenant Hon. George Colthurst St. Barleigh - Alan Grant
Captain Kevin Darling - Paul Johnson
General Sir Anthony Cecil Hogmanay Melchett - Leo Appleton
Driver Private Bob Parkhurst - Carrie-Lee Stevens
Brigadier Sir Bernard Proudfoot Smith - Helga Kilroy
Nurse Mark Fletcher Brown - Lisa Gould
Clerk-of-the-Court and Private Fraser - Jorge Frutuoso
Private Robinson and the (Red) Baron von Richtofen - Jake Hannam
Sergeant Jones and Squadron Commander Lord Flashheart - Jody Randall
Director – Barry Bowen
Musical Director - Paul Stephenson
Production Manager - Helga Kilroy
Set Design – Brett Stevens
Lighting Design – Tom Richards
Sound Design – Paul Johnson
Costume Design – Jocelyn Johnson
Properties – Barry Bowen, Paul Johnson, Helga Kilroy
Art Design – Paul Johnson
Stage Manager – Sam Stevens
Set Construction: Brett Stevens, Steve Dove, Mel Guest,
Izzy lacey, Jon Chinsky, Rob O'Keefe, Keith Mardell
Production Photography - Mel Guest
Marketing – Mel Guest and Paul Johnson
Props Manager - Marcie Appleton
Acknowledgements: We would like to thank our sponsors for their support throughout 2018.
We also gratefully acknowledge the assistance and support of Milton Keynes Theatre of Comedy, Paul, Cate and Izzy Lacey, Don Johnson and Graham Wallin.