The 1949 movie by Ealing Studios (based on real life events and written by Compton Mackenzie) is brought to life in the sumptuous surroundings of Richmond’s Georgian Theatre Royal. For those unaware, Whiskey Galore is the tale of a shipwreck off a fictional Scottish island, the inhabitants of which have run out of whisky because of wartime rationing. The islanders find out the ship is carrying 50,000 cases of whisky, and offer to help salvage the precious cargo, some of which happen to be squirreled away as a ‘finder’s fee’, much against the opposition of the local Customs and Excise men, the stationed Army Captain and the local hotelier (who fears his trade will disappear when the locals have all they need stashed away at home).
Whilst the stage adaptation is undoubtedly very funny, the direction of Mike Walker and the performances of the cast ensure that this does not descend into silly farce, which is to be much applauded as many other attempts to stage ‘Galore’ have taken the cheaper route to laughs.
Instead, the ladies of Richmond Amateur Dramatics Society, in the guise of The Pallas Players treat the audience with respect and let their own comedic qualities drive the fun and funnies – no ‘oops vicar’ moments and more like Mischief Theatre (Play That Goes Wrong, Peter Pan Goes Wrong, the Bank Robbery etc); in fact I’m sure the world famous purveyors of ‘play within a play’ and well-rehearsed ‘spontaneous’ mishaps would be happy, nay flattered to have their craft so positively compared to the RADS’ teams current production. There is also more than a passing nod in style and performance to Isobel McArthur’s smash hit play Pride and Prejudice* (*sort of).
Playing all the parts (of which there are over 25 roles to cover!) costumes, mannerisms and accents ensure we know exactly who is playing whom, we are never left wondering if we are watching the Pallas Players or the characters on the Toddy isles (except for when we are meant to, which results in some hilariously funny breaking of the 4th wall).
It is sometimes harder to appraise a play within a play, especially a comedy based on a less than professional fictious theatre group but one thing that is without doubt – this is a very talented group of ladies who produced a brilliantly enjoyable evening.
Whisky Galore is on at the Georgian Theatre Royal, Richmond tonight (10th Nov) and tomorrow (11th Nov) – tickets from http://www.georgiantheatreroyal.co.uk/
Cast (the real one) ;
Directed by Mike Walker, Stage Manager Suzy Brown, Costume Lynne Kerr.