Edinburgh Fringe 2015
New Old Friends hilarious retelling of Anthony Horowitz’s much admired novel, The Falcon’s Malteser, has a fast-paced and witty script that keeps the adults enthralled as much as the children.
There’s no better way to spend a damp afternoon in what passes for summer in these northern parts than by sitting in a warm, dry theatre listening to a tale of daring do and wondrous ineptitude. And what better example of scintillating silliness is there than New Old Friends hilarious retelling of Anthony Horowitz’s much admired novel, The Falcon’s Malteser. Though aimed squarely at the younger end of the age spectrum, this fast-paced and witty script (think 39 Steps meets James Bond) had the adults enthralled as much as the children.
In a plot that is dizzyingly labyrinthine, one-time not-so-hot cop and now less-than-lukewarm private detective Tim (very nice but really quite dim, played by Feargus Woods Dunlop) and his brother Nick (very nice and rather quick, played by Tim Metcalf) find themselves asked to guard a much sought after mystery package. Into the maze is then lobbed a mystery Mexican, a cunning Chief Inspector, a less than genial German, a risqué Russian, a menagerie of minor characters and as much rapid-fire alliteration as any cast can have been asked to deliver at this year’s Fringe.
It’s an absolute hoot of a script, augmented with slap-stick, prat falls, comedy chases and as creative a use of four on-stage doors as I’ve seen in years which involved split-second timing and must have produced a lot of fun in rehearsal. Jokes you can see coming about two minutes before they arrive are even funnier because of it and the clever word play keeps the adults and older ones amused and the whole thing cracking along at a pace that means you stay switched on throughout. My childhood days are further behind me than I’d care to admit, but I was laughing like a drain, as were the pair of eight year-olds in front of me and the teenagers behind me.
Denouement amusingly delivered, it came as rather a surprise to see a curtain call containing just four people. With Tim and Nick just taking the one part each, that left the remaining ten, fifteen or whatever (I lost count) parts to be played by two very over-worked actors. And what fun they had, flipping between costumes, accents, characters in seconds and never missing a beat.
This is fantastic feel-good theatre, full of superb acting (verbal and physical), inventively set and brilliantly executed. So, kids, grab your granny or grandpa and get on down to the Pleasance. Bet they laugh more than you do!