Being a huge fan of the original, I found myself filled with both excitement and apprehension when I read someone had brought a stage adaptation of ‘Allo ‘Allo to the Fringe. Trying to replicate such a well-known and well-loved comedy was going to be a tall order.
When the audience is inevitably composed of individuals who loved the television series and who hope to see a stage production that closely resembles it, there is little room for fresh interpretation of characters. Instead the actors attempt, with varying degrees of success, to mimic those in the original.
It all started promisingly enough: the set looks similar to the original and the opening monologue from Grant Campbell, who plays café owner René Artois, displays an uncanny resemblance to Gorden Kaye’s original interpretation. If only the rest of the cast had been able replicate this. There were some largely successful attempts from Marianne Muir (Madame Edith), Scott Strachan (Lieutenant Gruber) and Iain Campbell (Officer Crabtree -the policeman who thinks he can speak French). However, for more than one cast member the French accent proved too challenging and lines were delivered in clearly discernible Scottish tones.
Moreover, despite using the original writing team of David Croft and Jeremy Lloyd, the narrative felt stilted and disjointed; trying to shoehorn in as many characters and storylines from the original as possible meant there were too many things going on at once. The show dragged on forty five minutes too long and, as a result, the energy and pace found at the beginning of the show gradually seeped away - this was not helped, I’m sure, by the uncomfortably hot venue.
Overall, apart from the odd line and a few good performances the production was disappointing. If you enjoyed the original series you’d be better investing your money in the DVD collection.