Nick Le Mesurier reviews Private Dick Whittington at the Belgrade Theatre, Coventry
The line between ‘adult’ theatre and ‘children’s’ theatre is blurred still further in this fast moving, pun-drenched comedy, part of the Belgrade’s annual commitment to alternative comedy at Christmas time. Private Dick Whittington is a spoof detective thriller, a laugh-a-minute romp through the annals of noir. And like the model it sends up it has a plot that is barely describable, let alone credible.
But that of course is not the point. The point is the characters and the jokes. And we have these in spades (Sam Spade – geddit?). Private Dick Whittington (Keeley Harker) is drawn into the dark world of blackmail and extortion when the beautiful Lauren Alderman (Nicky Cross) walks into his office one Christmas time. She is searching for a famous lost ruby, which has been stolen from the Sultan of Morocco (Liam Nooney) and eventually finds itself in the Mayor of Coventry’s chain of office. On the way Dick is hypnotised, drugged, taken in by a ship’s cat (Anna Piper) and beguiled by a snake charmer, amongst other dastardly adventures.
Personally I can only stand just so much of this sort of humour, and at just one hour long the show is timed perfectly to get the most out of the joke laden script without overdoing it. The acting is great – you could squeeze the attitude out of Dick’s New York drawl. The costume changes are fast and colourful, Liam Nooney and Anna Piper working hard to bamboozle the audience with their kaleidoscopic shifts of character.
If you like boom-boom comedy with attitude this is a great stocking filler.
* Private Dick Whittington runs until New Year's Eve. Visit www.belgrade.co.uk to book.