There is a great tradition of black revue at the Theatre Royal, Stratford East; Philip Hedley, the theatre's artistic director, calls it his "Alan Ayckbourn", a guaranteed crowd-pleaser. While there was nothing Ayckbourn- esque about the often blue language, the show raised more than enough laughs to do the tradition proud.
The performers proved as adept at character-acting as comedy, playing gauche teenagers from Brockley and ferocious West Indian matriarchs with equal conviction. In an uproarious send-up of Stars in their Eyes, Johnson captured precisely the Thunderbirds walk and constipation-afflicted face of Tina Turner. In a courtroom sketch, Martin made an uncannily plausible feckless father, grabbing his crotch defensively as a judge urged him to take more responsibility for his children. When "he" was ordered to swap his BMW for a Lada in order to pay maintenance, he broke down in tears. This was typical of a show that managed to be political without being preachy. In by-play between scenes, the stage-hands kept being shooed off by Le Mar, so they exacted revenge by scrawling the graffiti "Angie is not funny" on a backdrop. Oh yes she is.
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