'The Young Visiters' Outstay Their Welcome

Clever and funny production runs out of steam, writes Penny Flood

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Clever, funny and sharply observed it may be, but this adaptation of quaint Victoriana runs out of steam.

This is an oddity, and I mean that in the nicest possible way; beautifully produced, brilliantly acted and very funny, it's a clever adaptation of a story written by nine-year-old Daisy Ashford at the end of the nineteenth century, telling a tale of snobbery, social climbing and the perfidiousness of women when there's a whiff of money in the air.

the cast of The young visiters at the Tabard Theatre

Our hero is the hapless and hopeless Mr Salteena (Jake Curran) who is in love with the pink of cheek and splendidly bewigged (everything is over the top) Ethel Monticue (Marianne Chase). In an attempt to impress her he gets them both invited to the home of an upper-class acquaintance Bernard Clark (Geordie Wright). Of course, Ethel's head is turned by the opulence of Bernard's lifestyle and Bernard, who doesn't get out much, is smitten by Ethel. Not that Mr Salteena notices as he's far too preoccupied with finding the correct way to eat lobster without spilling his wine.

Somehow or other, they end up at a ball in Buckingham Palace, meeting all sorts of characters along the way, including the inebriated Lord Clincham played by Andrew Brock who doubles up as Minnit the coach driver; and the waspish, sneering Procurio, a butler whose snobbishness is worse than his employer's. He's played by Jordan Mallory-Skinner who pops up later as a camp Prince of Wales in a dodgy crown. Jordan also arranged the music and there's plenty of it, including a Vienna waltz, The Hallelujah Chorus and The Man on the Flying Trapeze along with some of his own compositions.

Members of the cast join in from time to time to grab an instrument, and occasionally sing, even the hardworking narrator (Sophie Crawford) has to play a piano accordion. And as the audience is expected to join in too it helps if you know the words to All Things Bright and Beautiful.

For the most part it's great fun, but sadly, in spite of the tremendous effort that has been put into it, the vivid imaginings of a precocious young Victorian, do not a evening's entertainment make. It over runs its allotted 90 minutes, and at nearly two hours it's too long; the joke wears thin and even the glorious slapstick can't save it. It's a play that would be improved by having at least 30 minutes cut out.

Penny Flood

by Daisy Ashford
adapted and directed by Mary Franklin
1st – 26th March 2016
7.30pm, Tabard Theatre, Chiswick

Box Office: 020 8995 6035/ www.tabardtheatre.co.uk

March 8, 2016

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