Birkenhead’s last remaining theatrical venue, The Little Theatre, brought to a conclusion on Saturday 10th November its week-long run of Blackadder Goes Forth and LVL headed down to check out this staged version of the much-loved TV comedy series on the eve of the centenary of the end of the First World War.
Built as a Presbytarian church in 1847, The Little Theatre has operated as a drama venue for over sixty years. Saturday’s production was by the Carlton Players, resident theatre company of the Little Theatre, an amateur group who put on regular performances at the venue. It is a revival of Blackadder for director Nicholas Fawdry, the cast and crew after a successful run of an earlier series in 2014.
The Little Theatre itself is a venue that is on the one hand unusual, having been converted from a church, but also a very traditional space with a classic proscenium stage. The long history of the theatre is presented across the walls with numerous photographs and images as we head into the show, adding a charming sense of nostalgia to the friendly, relaxed atmosphere.
The Carlton Players’ production of Blackadder Goes Forth was rendered largely faithfully to the TV show from which the script has been drawn, and the cast produced at times very funny and almost uncanny renditions of the characters. The Carlton Players made expert use of their home territory and got a lot of laughs from the appreciative audience.
I have to admit that I find some of Ben Elton’s jokes a bit problematic, but that is no reflection on the excellent job done by the Carlton Players. It was a well produced, directed and acted piece that was brought to a poignant conclusion, and which provided a fitting and moving commemoration of the horrors of that ‘war to end all wars’ on the eve of Remembrance Sunday.
The Little Theatre is really a special venue, not nearly as small as it makes out – a solid theatrical space in the heart of Charing Cross in Birkenhead – a place to be cherished and nurtured given that other Birkenhead venues have fallen by the wayside, and the production of Blackadder Goes Forth, clearly enjoyed by the audience, was very much to the Carlton Players’ credit. One of Merseyside’s hidden treasures, The Carlton Players at the Little Theatre are well worth checking out for a night of entertainment and quality theatre!
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Images Courtesy of the Carlton Players, The Little Theatre and Steve Jones.