The best amateur dramatic groups really are a treat.
atching Tring Theatre Company rehearsing as they went through their first scripts down for 'Allo ‘Allo they were in fits of laughter.
And it wasn’t just because the show is written by Jeremy Lloyd and David Croft, who wrote the hugely successful television sitcom. There was clearly a great camaraderie between the cast and crew as well as talent and a determination to put on the best showb possible.
So great is their enthusiasm, Guy Siner, who played Lieutenant Hubert Gruber in the original television series, is attending the Saturday evening performance and will take part in a Q&A session with the audience afterwards.
Richard Carr, who will compere the session, also plays Officer Crabtree in the play. This is the character whose lines have gone down in folklore - remember them? ‘Good moaning, I was just pissing by your window’.
He told me: “We’ve been rehearsing since the beginning of January. Normally, all these weeks in you would get bored with the jokes, but we are still laughing at the script, which is good news for the audience!”
All the characters are putting on accents, be it French or German and Richard admitted: “The accent is very difficult. I have to be English doing a French accent badly and I have to pronounce the words incorrectly. I keep going into Midlands or Welsh. I can remember what I have to say but I forget how to say it.”
The best shows always start with a terrific script, and this one was specially created for the stage. Set in the cafe of hapless cafe owner Rene in occupied France during World War Two it includes all the favourite television characters including Rene’s tone deaf wife Edith, Major-General von Klinkerhoffen and the Gestapo officer Herr Flick.
Rene and his wife have stashed a priceless portrait stolen by the Nazis in a sausage in their cellar, where two British airmen are hiding until the Resistance can repatriate them. News that the Fuhrer is scheduled to visit the town inspires tricksters disguised as Hitler to frequent the cafe.
Meanwhile Rene summons all the wit he can muster to save his cafe and his life.
Zed Herbert, who plays Edith, has come out of am dram retirement to play the part and said: “This role is fabulous. Edith is very one track minded. She and Rene aren’t having any sex, he’s too busy with his ladies, he’s totally unfaithful to her. She wants to have sex with him, she keeps saying how young and virile he used to be. I think the audience will love it. Whatever she says, Rene has a comment at the end.
“I absolutely love it, I still laugh and sometimes I can’t look at someone otherwise I’ll go off on one. Every single line Richard says is hysterical. But my singing is what you must hear. Edith says she should have been an opera singer but she is totally tuneless.”
Stephen Davies, who plays the leading role of Rene, has been in am dram for 38 years including Shakespeare and musicals but says this role is a dream come true.
He said: “I’m a bloke and I get two beautiful women pretending to be in love with me, which is very nice.”
Director Craig Allen said: “There is a lot of stress in the news these days. This is a show where you can leave all that at the door and come and relax and enjoy yourself.”
‘Allo ‘Allo is at the Court Theatre in Tring at 8pm Tuesday, May 15 - Saturday, May 19, with an additional 2.30pm matinee on the Saturday if you fancy an alternative to the royal wedding television coverage. Tickets from £12 - £15. Book online at www.courttheatre.co.uk or visit Beechwood Fine Foods in Frogmore Street, Tring