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Holy codpiece, it’s Blackadder

REVIEW: I have a cunning plan! See Blackadder at South Hill Park for hip thrusts and saucy bants.

Elizabethan costumes of Blackadder and Baldrick in the first ever theatre show of the hit tv series at Soouth Hill Park Bracknell

Holy cod piece! What a first night at South Hill Park’s Wilde Theatre. The tights were tight, the codpieces were packing a punch and the show was heavy on sexual innuendo. It can only be Blackadder. So, I’m bashing out a review as there are only four days left to catch it. If you love comedy, saucy humour and loved the original TV series, read on!

Blackadder, of course, started out on the BBC – much loved by anyone growing up in the 80s. Starring Rowan Atkinson, the story followed Edmund Blackadder and his dog’s body Baldrick, played by Tony Robinson. Although each series is set in a different era, all follow the “misfortunes” of Blackadder, who in each is a member of a British family dynasty present at many significant periods and places in British history. It is implied in each series the Blackadder character is a descendant of the previous one – but how or when the bachelor Blackadders managed to father children, is anyone’s guess.

With the red curls and ruffles, it can only b e Queen elizabeth I (aka Queen) in the first ever Blackadder stage show at South Hill Park Bracknell

The title role is taken here by Adrian McDougall with Ashleigh Wells as Baldrick, Vicky Lawford as Queenie, Heather Wilson takes on Miss Miggins and Nursie and Alex Harvey-Brown providing the hip thrusts of Lord Flashheart – to name a few.

Hip thrusting enthusiasm of Lord Flashheart in Blackadder the stage show at South Hill Park Bracknell

Actually, they’re all strong – Adrian McDougall, Ashleigh Wells and Alex Harvey-Brown were brilliant. Not just because they have the best lines, but because they the owned the stage and grabbed their delivery by the *coughs… you get my drift. Great timing and funny delivery.

The four original TV series are knitted together with the help of Professor Starkers – an eccentric historian and author who has a striking resemblance to the wild-eyed, batty Doc Brown from Back To The Future. He definitely managed to pull things together with some fun historical and contemporary references (and a cheeky glimpse of Brad Clapson as South Hill Park’s panto dame in this year’s Beauty & the Beast).

Duke of Wellington, Blackadder and mad King George in the first ever stage show of Blackadder at South Hill Park Bracknell

Like many theatre productions the ensemble cast work very hard, taking several roles each and they were strong, particularly David Stacey (Lord Chiswick, Simon Partridge, Prince George and Lieutenant George) and Julian Hirst (Archbishop, Lord Melchett, Duke of Wellington and General Melchett), both playing four different characters. Funniest moment? It has when Miss Miggins got stuck in the curtain during her entrance. Yes it was a first night wobble, but Heather Wilson and Adrian McDougall styled it out like a couple of pros, making the most of the opportunity to capitalise on the laughs. Brilliant!

Hard to find much to criticise really, other than that the stage hands being a bit of a distraction during scene changes while the cast were performing at the same time. And perhaps the hammy Simon Partridge could have had more nuance, but looking around at the audience clapping to the encores at the end, they were definitely feeling the Blackadder love and so was I.

The Muddy verdict: Definitely one for date nights, sniggering teens who’ll love the rude bants and mums and dads – it’s a safe bet for a fun night out.

‘Blackadder’, Wilde Theatre, South Hill Park, until Sun 15 Oct. Tickets from £20.50, plus concessions. Book tickets

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