Theatre: Boo, hiss, it's better in plasticine
Wallace and Gromit in A Grand Night Out Sadler's Wells at The Peacock, London
Friday 28 November 1997
A Grand Night Out finds Nick Park's Oscar-winning Plasticine creations back in their natural habitat: Forties decor meets the big-bolted consoles of Saturday matinee Flash Gordon in Wallace's latest Heath Robinsonian invention - the Pantheatricon. The contraption provides the narrative, such as it is: simply insert a novel of your choice - in this case, a melodramatic working of The Hound of the Baskervilles - set the genre display to, say, drama, and off you go.
On one level, this could be read as a knowing joke about plots within plots or a character's ontological freedom ("I can't possibly act!" "But you're the barmaid!"), but it is a metaphor for the production's weaknesses. It wants to appeal to people of all ages, drawing on the keenly observed, meticulously animated world of Park's imagination. In the end, however, it offers up not so much a greatest hits of the W&G films (as the writer Andrew Dawson intended) but a succession of sight-gags and half-jokes that rely on our knowledge of the superior celluloid version.
If the idea is to appeal to children alone, a 7.30pm performance, even one that comes in at comfortably under two hours, won't do much for receipts. Yes, under-eights will laugh at the physical buffoonery, hiss at the appearance of the dastardly penguin or sigh when our heroes fall out, but it's at the level of amateurish panto, without the verve to keep adults interested.
The performers have an uphill struggle: to breathe life into clay figures who are comfortable only in their own extraordinary, hermetic universe. Paul Filipiak plays Wallace with his trademark rambling chitchat and wide- eyed bemusement while Joyce Henderson has little opportunity to shine as Wallace's shy, monotone love interest, Wendolene. Only Russ Edwards' Gromit and Angela Clerkin as the penguin can exploit the cartoon-like potential of their silent performances. In opting for a halfway house between adhering to the Plasticine characters' mannerisms and opting for an impressionistic "essence of Park", the play again loses coherence.
The absurd but captivating world of Wallace and Gromit, its craft and its delicacy of touch are rarely sighted and, in the hands of director Martin Lloyd-Evans, the physical comedy is too often akin to the laboured pratfalls of presenters on children's TV. The Wallace and Gromit brand may be big business - "We could take the theatrical world by storm," says Wallace. "No, I don't think so," replies Wendolene.
To 10 Jan 1998. Booking: 0171-314 8800
Life & Style blogs
Isis, we are told, is a 'clear and dangerous threat to our way of life'. I’m sorry, but I just don’t buy it
Exclusive: 'Putin's Russia has been my biggest regret,' says Nato's outgoing Secretary General
The Osborne Ultimatum: Chancellor’s benefits freeze bombshell will affect ten million households
There’s no excuse for Dave Lee Travis’s behaviour, but we need to keep a sense of proportion
Should gay sex be illegal? 16% of Britons think so
Mark Reckless becomes second Tory MP to defect to Ukip in a month
- 1 Five-year-old Iris Grace is raising awareness of autism through her extraordinary paintings
- 2 Expert urges cat lovers to own just one animal each
- 3 Sainsbury's '50p challenge' poster telling staff to encourage customers to spend more placed in shop window instead of staff room
- 4 Yes, the iPhone 6 is a miracle, but it's Apple's tax affairs that deserve a double take
- < Previous
- Next >
Very Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: NORTH HAMPSHIRE NQ to MID LEVEL - An e...
Highly Attractive Pakage: Austen Lloyd: MANCHESTER - A highly attractive oppor...
£40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (Campaigns, Offlin...
£90000 - £135000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Marketing (B2C, Acquisition...