FUNNY Faces at Bromsgrove’s Artrix provided an interesting insight into the lives of two of the nation’s much-loved Carry On comedy actors.
You were seeing something that you could probably not find anywhere else all in one place – unless you had gone out of your way to research it, which is what the actors had clearly done.
It also made you think – how many times have we watched characters on screen without giving a second thought to the people playing them.
The Artrix studio was perfect for these pieces as it had the intimacy. The performers addressed the audience personally. We had been invited, even confided, into their inner-most and deepest thoughts.
The biographical portrayals were both big asks – to do what were, in effect, monologues for an hour takes some doing.
In the first one SIMply Joan, Caroline Nash was able to showcase her versatility. Joan reflected on her life and went through the many roles she had taken on, complete with accents and singing.
The reflections included the impact her mum, dad and her co-stars, especially Hattie Jacques and ‘Kenny’ Williams, had on her and the smattering of one-liners lightened the mood, providing several laugh out loud moments.
Nash certainly held the audience’s attention throughout as we followed her from one side of the stage to the other. The only criticism was the first half was a tad too long.
Steve Dimmer , in Wot Sid Did, had the audience in the palm of his hand from the start – as lovable rogue Sid James did throughout his catalogue of roles and performances.
As well as Sid’s life, the piece also threw light on the relationships he had with fellow performers, most notably Tony Hancock and Kenneth Williams.
The portrayal demonstrated perfectly how James had reached the heights he did and, because of his approach, you felt the nation could forgive him almost anything.
This show is great for fans of either the Carry Ons, Sid James, Joan Sims or even Hancock’s Half Hour as there are plenty of references to what was once the country’s best-listened to and best-watched sitcom.
It is maybe not for theatre-goers wanting to watch a show about characters they know nothing about.
There was a strange atmosphere as the crowd filed out – you were glad you had seen the show but will never probably watch those actors again in the same light.
At the same time, for those with an interest, there was the insatiable desire to not only go and re-watch their performances you had already seen, but also to check them out in some of their many other roles, read-up on their lives and maybe even track down some interviews on YouTube to find out even more.
Fans of any of the above will definitely want to Carry On viewing…..