Who knew that Caroline Quentin could achieve (almost) the splits, while strumming a ukulele? Or that that Richard Bean and Chris Oliver – who a decade ago created the National Theatre’s world-conquering One Man, Two Guvnors – would for their next 18c update, Jack Absolute Flies Again, attempt a mashup of Sheridan’s classic frothy Restoration romcom The Rivals, and set it in a WW2 RAF base?
“What will happen in England after we have won this war? Bunting! Bunting everywhere!” Richard Bean and Oliver Chris’ new play Jack Absolute Flies Again at the National Theatre takes R.B. Sheridan’s 1775 farce The Rivals and updates the setting to a Sussex country house in The Battle of Britain. The romantic pursuits, mistaken identities and malapropisms from The Rivals are combined with Bean’s typically bawdy sense of humour, some impressive aerial dogfights and a dose of WWII patriotism. The result is an entertaining, albeit safe and slightly too long, comedy with pathos.
There are returns to the material that has justly made her reputation. Her impassioned take on Cilla Black’s swinging ‘Anyone Who Had a Heart’ remains an absolute joy and a full-throated rendition of Funny Girl’s ‘My Man’ recalls the energy of her Fanny Brice.
The Watermill Theatre’s Artistic Director, Paul Hart, announces his spring 2018 season which includes an award-winning new musical, the first major revival of a modern classic, a new Shakespeare production from The Watermill Ensemble and three premieres.