Blackadder at the Dolman

IMG_0376 copy The Newport Playgoers Society’s stage production of Blackadder is an amalgam of scenes from the Blackadder Goes Forth series that appeared on television on 1989. The action is set in a trench at Flanders on the Western Front in 1917 and it follows the desperate attempts made to escape terrible injury and death faced by solders in WW1 by a small band of unlikely friends. The audience is left with an anti-war message about the futility and madness of war. The theme is delivered through  satire and comedy and with black humor that highlights and not diminishes the horrors experienced by ‘the lions that were led by donkeys.’

The usual suspects of Blackadder, Baldrick, George and Darling are present and with it’s satirical, ironic humor makes this play an absolute classic. The dialogue is marked throughout by satirical musings about the nature of the war, its origins and the effects on the soldiers who suffered over its course. The fact that the soldiers suffered whilst their commanders remained safely distant from the action was also referenced on many occasions, such as when Melchett says to Baldrick, “Don’t you worry my boy, if you should falter, remember that Captain Darling and I are behind you!”, to which Blackadder responds, “Yes, about 35 miles behind!”

Director……………………………………………………………………Rosemary Bissex

The Cast (in order of speaking)

Captain Edmund Blackadder…………………………………………..Steve Drowley

Private S. Baldrick………………………………………………………..Gordon Collins

Lieutenant The Honorable George Colthurst St. Barleigh……James Symonds

General Sir Anthony Cecil Hogmanay Melchett…………………..Peter Howells

Driver Bob Parkhurst………………………………………………….Cathrine Morgan

Squadron Commander Lord Flashheart………………………………..Ryan Hillier

Field Marshall Sir Douglas Haig………………………………………..Wayne Fenton

British Soldiers…………………………………………Robert Jacob and Ryan Hillier

The final part of the play features a purely dramatic and extraordinarily poignant final scene, where the main characters (except General Melchett himself) are finally sent over the top. To the sound of a slow, minimal and downbeat piano version of the title theme, the four men and Bob are seen in slow-motion, charging into the fog and smoke of no man’s land with gunfire and explosions all around. The fate of the solders is left ambiguous. Blackadder’s final line before the charge is also underpinned with an unusually reflective and poignant tone, offered after Baldrick claims to have one last cunning plan to save them from the impending doom: ‘Well, I’m afraid it’ll have to wait. Whatever it was, I’m sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman around here? …Good luck, everyone.’

With the special effects of smoke, sounds and a screen displaying WW1 clips and photos; the production created that extra special touch to take the audience back to 1917.

Catherine Morgan, the only female cast member said: ‘It has been great fun being part of Blackadder and Bob is probably my favorite cross-dresser in television. It has been a privilege to perform in all three plays dedicated to the WWI centenary.’

Blackadder goes forth written by Paul Carpenter and Ian Gower adapted from the TV series by Richard Curtis and Ben Elton.


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