IT is brave to adapt any television classic for the stage.
Comparisons will always be made.
So well done to any company that takes on such a dramatic, creative challenge.
The Wallasey-based Claremount Players 'cunningly' brought back to life Blackadder Goes Forth – the satirical drama written by Richard Curtis and Ben Elton which starred Rowan Atkinson and a stellar cast.
The Claremount Players – a community, non-professional theatre group since 1927 – treat their subject matters with respect .
In the year we mark the centenary of the start of World War 1, this production used the last episode of the series for their three day run.
It was an inspired choice.
The hour-long play set in 1917 sees the soldiers cope with the impending decision to go 'over the top' to No Man’s Land and certain death.
The final push was no laughing matter – and yet Curtis and Elton managed to combine humour and pathos in equal measure.
The five-strong cast took to their roles with the right amount of irreverence and poignancy.
Captain Edmund Blackadder, played by Rob Shannon and diminutive Private S Baldrick courtesy of Rhiannon Taylor are a strong double-act.
Blackadder’s put-downs to Baldrick were a highlight of the series as they were here.
This duo has been busy as both actors co-directed and co-produced the play.
They were joined by confident Max Chase as the delightfully deluded Lieutenant George Barleigh.
Robin Barlow’s Blustery General Melchett and Fiona Williams as twitchy Captain Kevin Darling completed the line-up and they clearly relished the chance to deliver some classic dialogue.
Mike Colbourne’s inventive trench set featured some illuminated poppies and a clever backdrop utilised Josh Harwood’s lighting, sound and stage management.
If the Claremount Players decide to put this show on again and I hope they do, it will travel well whether in a community centre or school.
I would, however, suggest a few tweaks.
Blackadder should not have his hands in his pockets at any time.
All armed forces personnel to this day do not tolerate such a show of insubordination.
Accuracy is so important with all factual dramas as shown by the superb Horrible Histories shows.
And on the prop side, Melchett could use a little more spirit gum on his moustache.
That said, this is a great achievement for The talented Claremount Players.
There were times when I had forgotten I was watching an Am-Dram production.
9/10 Excellent War Effort