Right, people. Strap yourselves in, buckle up, take a deep breath and prepare to be transported back in time at break-neck speed with no holds barred. Ready? Then hang on to your hats and let’s go!
This is story-telling at its most frantic, this is narrative on speed, this is a hallucinogenic flight of fancy that propels us, non-stop, through the dour and forbidding German (sorry, Silesian) landscape gathering and shedding characters as we go, dragging us through POW camps and quarries and post-rooms and isolated churches in the woods and my goodness there is absolutely no time to pause for breath as we hurtle our way through this maelstrom of organised mayhem, except that is for laughs as this is engaging, this is moving, this is sad, and this is very, very funny.
It’s 1942. We’re in Germany (sorry, Silesia). Rosa is a German (sorry, Silesian) polyglot translator in her Father’s quarry-cum-prison camp and he wants her to brush up her near-perfect English by conversing with British
POW’s, in particular, Horace (sorry, Jim), who’s a barber and these two fall madly in love, of course, helped and hindered along the way by the three other members of the troupe who flit in and out of the collection of different characters that bedeck this intriguing story.
Yes, it’s a sort of Five Go Berserk in Silesia.
This is a bunch of performers whose sole intention is to make the audience zing along with them, keeping up their frenetic pace from the word gehen right through to the very end of the hour-long piece. They are all dressed the same in black vests, khaki shorts, brown leather belts and, yes, you’ve guessed it, bright green socks, as they dance and prance and skirmish and tussle their way through the melee of brooms, mops, rifles and chickens.
Devised by the company, Lost Watch, and directed by Louise Skaaning, Flew The Coop is fringe theatre at its brashest, challenging, unpretentious best. There are no apologies here for an irreverent style, a liberal interpretation, or quirky indulgences because this crew have one purpose and one purpose only: to entertain. And they do that in spades.
Olivia Hirst, Dan Armstrong and Agnes Wild effectively crochet together a rich fabric of diverse characters as a narrative backdrop to the passionate coupling of two people thrown together in extreme circumstances and their vibrant chronicling ensures the action never flags.
Daniel Holme as Horace (AKA Jim), the demon barber of the Silesian quarry, gives us a knowing-glance/raised- eyebrow/amuse-bouche kind of performance which has an endearing charm and which is a perfect foil to the cutely assertive Rosa. And Rianna Dearden, joint Artistic Director of Lost Watch (with Wild and Hirst) plays Rosa at full tilt to the full hilt. Dearden has that rare quality of being able to convince the audience that they are in on the gentle self-mockery joke that she is perpetrating on Horace (Jim) and the other characters. She has the uncanny ability to be an outsider inside the ensemble and we’re with her all the way as she moulds and manipulates and plots and schemes her way to nudging her imprisoned lover out and away and back home to Blighty. Its a delicate and strong and clever and intuitive performance by Dearden.
The show is accompanied by an excellent soundtrack, especially for the dance sequences, operated on stage by the cast (credit to Raghav Narula) with an effectively complementary lighting design by Tom Kitney and Ryan Joseph Stafford. And there is technical assistance from Jake Taylor.
Ultimately, Flew The Coop is a sum-of-its-parts show: every moment, every nuance, every word, every flick of an eyebrow is choreographed down to the very last detail and the whole thing works like a dream. To the extent that at the end we are sorry we’ve got to wake up.
Review by Peter Yates
The greatest escape. Ever.
This is a true story. Events are told exactly as they happened, apart from the ones that are completely made up.
It’s 1943. Rosa Rauchbach and Horace Greasley are creating a little slice of history, and stealing a lot of chickens along the way.
The Rauchbach Greasley Association Society Club (RGASC, for short) will tell you all about it. They have a shared obsession with their two national heroes, a fierce pride in their country and only 5 members. Not that that’s going to stop them.
Multi award-winning Lost Watch present Flew the Coop, inspired by the true story of Silesian translator Rosa Rauchbach and Horace Greasley, the British prisoner of war who escaped over 200 times to see her.
14 February – 4 March 2017 – 19:30