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Red Peppers

by on 29 July 2018

Real Bite into the Spice

Red Peppers

by Noel Coward

Blue Fire Theatre Company at Mary Wallace Theatre, Twickenham, 28th July, then touring until 18th August.

Review by Louis Mazzini

First performed in Manchester over eighty years ago, the comedy Red Peppers remains one of Noel Coward’s most popular plays. Though among his shortest – as one of the ten plays that make up the Tonight at 8.30 sequence – it has an enduring appeal and the central couple of fading vaudevillians has been played by the likes of Anthony Newley and Joan Collins as well as, of course, by Coward himself with his muse Gertrude Lawrence.

In Blue Fire Theatre Company’s lively production, seen here in an Edinburgh preview, Coward’s role is taken by a blisteringly funny Steve Taylor and Lawrence’s by an acid-dropping Lottie Walker. Both are experienced revue artistes and bring real bite to their performances, skilfully recreating the rhythms and slips of Coward’s song and dance routines and, as he takes us backstage, exposing the backbiting venom of a couple in terminal decline and not just on stage.

Red Peppers 1

© Alison Jee

The duo are well supported. Edz Barrett plays the manager of a theatre so run down that even the clothes rail is falling apart. Charles Halford is a bibulous conductor and Joanna Taylor makes a memorably star-struck callboy, while Mandy Stenhouse adds a distinctive cameo playing a theatrical dame who has definitely seen better days.

This is a strong production of a theatrical gem, a glimpse at the long lost world of vaudeville, played by two actors at the top of their game. Highly recommended.

Louis Mazzini
July 2018

Photography by Alison Jee

See also Palace of Varieties 

3 Comments
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