National Loaf

August 15, 2014 | By More

✭✭✩✩✩    Amusing romp

Paradise in the Vault (Venue 29) Sat 4 – Sun 17 August (not 11)

Charlotte Productions provide a quirky take on WW2 rationing at the Vault on Merchant Street in a production which could do with tightening up a tad.

It's all about the loaf. Photo: Charlotte Productions

It’s all about the loaf. Photo: Charlotte Productions

The National Loaf, introduced in 1942 to help with the war effort, was apparently so stale that it discouraged people from wolfing it down and so saved on flour. National Loaf here is an amusing romp of a play by Charlotte Productions, set in a northern rationing office, which seems to function more as the local centre for black marketeering, on the day the Colonel unexpectedly comes to inspect the office.

Without time to prepare, Johnny and his assistant have various locals dropping in to offer them black market melons, request extra – and illegal – supplies of flour, and to give the game away about what’s really going on in the local office. Your country may need you to tighten your belt but the local women don’t seem to care much for that.

A fine premise for a farce and for some fine performances from the talented cast. The largely female cast – Charlotte Productions specialises in giving voice to a female narrative – provide wonderful cartoon caricatures of the wartime women in this northern town.

Jessica Flood is impressively shouty – perhaps at times a little too strident – as Maggie who’s the secretary in the office but actually runs the show. Her mother, Mrs Baker, appropriately enough the village baker, bustles round the stage outraged at being called on to produce such an atrocity as the National Loaf.

sparring partners

Gemma Hall as Liz and Laura Witz as Molly put in good supporting performances and comic turns. Thomas Broadhead as Captain Johnson, the amiable buffoon in charge of the office and Joey Thurston as Colonel Huffkins, the pompous incomer who comes to inspect the local rationing office, are good sparring partners, playing well off each other.

Laura Witz’s script has some sharp repartee and good dialogue but unfortunately the jokes are a bit stale and don’t come frequently enough. The venue doesn’t do the production any favours. The stage space is cramped – more movement might have helped the comic timing.

Additionally there is some noise bleed both from within and without the venue, which to be fair, on one occasion, a nimble cast member was able to use to comic advantage.

However, all in all, this is a production that, while it has good solid performances from the cast, would benefit from tighter writing, more jokes and a little more pace.

Running time: 1 hour
Paradise in the Vault, 11 Merchant Street, EH1 2QD (Venue 29)
Sat 4 – Sun 17 August (not 11)
Daily at 12.05pm
Tickets from: tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/national-loaf
Company website: www.charlotteproductions.org

ENDS

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