'ALLO 'ALLO!
Dominion Theatre, London W1
Opened 12 February, 1992

We all know that Lord Rees-Mogg's favourite prog is racist, sexist and homophobic, reaching its crass zenith in policeman Crabtree, whose mispronunciations let him say "piss" and "fart" and endear him to six-year-old schoolboys of all ages. But does it work as theatre?

Its conventional form and structure score over, say, Talking Heads. The levels of plotting, characterisation and wordplay, however, would embarrass a root vegetable (and at least Esther shows us the naughty veg; here the mere names are the gags). The farcical climax, with four Hitlers and four Goerings (one inflatable) onstage, is about as funny as the Social Fund.

None of which matters to the audience, who are here to recognise and applaud their old favourites... well, to applaud them, anyway; we don't seem to notice that Herr Flick isn't played by Richard Gibson or are we just clapping the leather trenchcoat?

In the light of this and Don't Dress For Dinner, director Peter Farago's name deserves to pass into the language. Oh, it's easy to sneer, I know, but that's the only pleasure I could find in the whole affair. Listen very carefully, I... oh, forget it. Please.

Written for City Limits magazine.

Copyright Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.

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