Review – Operation Stork

Aug 18 2012 | By More


St Serf’s Church Hall: EdFringe 2012
Review by Thom Dibdin

There is plenty of comedy on stage as the babies keep on coming in Leitheatre’s well-paced production of Reid Kennedy’s Operation Stork at St Serf’s Hall in Goldenacre.

Director Don Arnott has got the mix just right, in a romantic army barracks farce where the glaikit Private Campbell provides the catalyst for mayhem wherever he appears. Particularly in the office of the stiff-backed C.O. and his not quite bumbling Lance Corporal, where the action is set.

Lynne Morris (Major Rosenkist) and Billy Renfrew (Private Campbell) in Leitheatre’s Operation Stork, Edinburgh Fringe 2012

Philip Rainford has all the stiff upper-lip and barking commands as the C.O. Lt. Col. Robbie Crawford. Although he could afford to let that temper rise just a few more notches. He and Mike Paton’s Lance Corporal Nobby Clarke are quite the odd couple, with plenty of enjoyment to be had from Clarke’s second-guessing of his commander’s needs.

Providing a nicely interloping presence into this army-office bliss is the C.O.’s recent wife, Vera. Fiona Robertson fetches up all her well-meaning intentions and lays them out carefully with just the right level of sincerity, so that mayhem may ensue. It helps the comedy fall out naturally that there is a believable air to it all.

Most of the misunderstandings surround Private Gregor Campbell. Who is brought blinking and bumbling to the stage by Billy Renfrew. He has exactly the right kind of mobile face for the role – twinkling from blank resignation to blank insolence while hardly moving a muscle. And clearly one of life’s blunderers who might not have a malicious bone in their body, but for whom, if something can go wrong it most certainly will.

plenty of spice

With Campbell up on a charge and relieved of minding the regimental mascot, a goat, the plot is set to revolve around a call from on high for the C.O. to mount a recruitment campaign. Any natural tendency to keep Campbell well away from the limelight is thwarted, however, when it is discovered that his wife is pregnant with sextuplets. Obviously, any indication that life in the army makes you fecund is bound to get the lads pouring through the door.

The unfolding comedy is safe enough, sixties fare, but with Andy Harris on hand as over-the-hill M.O. Captain Featherbridge and Lynne Morris as the battle-axe nursing sister Major Rosenkist, there is plenty of spice to it. John Macaskill as the vet and Bob Allan as Vera’s ex-husband businessman George Birp, help it keep moving gently along.

The greatest drawback to the Kennedy’s script is that the cutting edge to his comedy is reliant on sensibilities which are long lost. But on Derek Blackwood’s well-designed set it all falls out with a gentle rhythm which provides laughter on many levels.

Run ends Saturday 18 August 2012

The cast of Operation Stork. Pic: Leitheatre


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