Camden Fringe 2012
Watership Breakdown – The Bastard Children of Remington Steele
Camden People's Theatre
Watership Breakdown explores the lives of 4 orphans in St Agathes convent where they are all thrown together with just 3 Remington Steele videos for company, ham to eat and the occasional visit from one of the nuns. From moment one this production is engaging. The variety of accents and smooth character changes alone make it an exceptional piece of theatre, but the story, a mix of Lemony Snicket and Roald Dahl in similarity alone. This is a completely original masterpiece of a story from comedian Sadie Hasler.
Watership Breakdown exceeds expectations and truly delights and surprises at every turn. There is no weak link in this production with truly solid and consitent performances throughout from all the performers. It is a mammoth feat for all the performers to have to play such a chocophany of characters and deliever each one with the same level of believablility and creativity and with such smooth transitions. Sarah Mayhew is inspired as the 29 year old mentally challenged orphan who seriously believes her father is Remington Steele. John Oakes takes on many of the male roles with enthusiasm especially his role as young orphan Michael and his command of the new language that Hasler has created through her writing for the children is so strong. Charlie Platt conveys the character of Cassie beautifully with lovely levels of light and shade. Sadie Hasler has a huge stranglehold on character comedy and accents with perfect delivery of all her very different characters including Sylvia Oregano Flip Flop orphaned child, to the very upper crust nun and to a henchman for Michael’s father. This ensemble are in harmony and deliver a near faultless piece of theatre.
Hasler takes words and turns them into comedic poetry in motion leaving the audience falling about laughing with the crazy hilarity of it all. Turning language on its head, reversing everything and making poignant statements with such a quirky twist ensures the language is both sophisticated, and most importantly brand new. It is consistently hilarious, sad and surprising and ensures this could become an absolute canon classic.
Watership Breakdown has restored my faith in new writing, and given me back the hope that it is a certainty that there is luscious fresh new talent out there on the fringe. Sadie Hasler deserves to be reaching higher heights with this production and I absolutely wait with baited breath for the next show she produces. This is the sort of fringe that should be attracting all ages and consistently touring.
Literally beg borrow or steal to get a ticket, and if you miss it watch like a hawk for when this magical piece of theatre it is on again. This is so original and so unique that the hour flies by in seconds and I would happily sit through the whole thing again to absorb all the moments missed the first time around because of the complexity, the topsy turvey language, and the sheer fun of it all. No question, this is the absolute pick of the Camden Fringe.