Vichy Goings-On

Aug 15 2017 | By More

★★★☆☆    Creative

Paradise at the Vault (Venue 29): Mon 14 – Sun 27 August 2017
Review by Linus West

An effective original script carries Vichy Goings-On right the way through, giving it easy entertainment value at the Fringe. There are a few bumps along the way, but on the whole RFT deliver an engaging, likeable story with unique characters.

The company uses the white-painted brick walls of Paradise in the Vault well, projecting onto them everything from location names, to dates, to landscapes and images. Few props are used, giving the production a slick, minimalist style.

Sean Langtree and Andrea McKenzie. Pic Linus West

Albert Ogilvy is a former M16 agent in the aftermath of World War II. He, and he alone, knows the exact location of a mysterious stash of gold. Lost in the conflict and buried at the bottom of the sea, it’s now sought after by both sides in the new Cold War. Thanks to this knowledge, he’s become the most wanted man in the world.

Sean Langtree as Ogilvy comes across with a bland, dimwitted demeanour. At first this seems like poor acting on Langtree’s part, causing many of his gags to fall flat. However, it pays off later, as his expressionless face contrasts comically with the more ridiculous characters.

The agent’s companion to begin with is Veronique, a French agent guiding him through various hurdles as he comes out of hiding in 1947 and is immediately captured by the Americans. Annoyingly, Andrea McKenzie’s accent is just not quite there.

The two have an awkward romance onstage, one that while meant to be comic, just feels uncomfortable. You can tell what they’re going for – a James Bond-esque love story – but it doesn’t get the balance right.

wacky and amusing

As the show progresses, a dazed Ogilvy is thrown from one farcical setting into another, a victim of his own knowledge. Ben Blow’s script gets the pacing spot on, turning the ridicule up by just a notch with each scene – making it wacky and amusing, but not out of place. What starts on a tropical beach ends up in the company of a space polar bear, yet somehow it all feels natural.

Madeleine McGirk, David Taylor and Ben Blow portray various characters along the hero’s ludicrous journey. Each has their own unique charm, and is easily memorable. This is one of those productions where the supporting cast end up stealing the show.

Jonathan Whiteside deserves particular praise in his role as a ‘Nice Nazi’, stationed in the Arctic to maintain a hidden outpost of the Fourth Reich and the secrets it holds. He delivers the paradox perfectly, giving the strongest performance of the show with a hilarious interpretation. Those offended by any sugarcoating whatsoever of that despicable regime may take issue, but to everyone else it’s a brilliant bit of comedy.

The tech has its hiccups at points, but mostly works fine and will not doubt improve over the run. There is an appropriate choice of music and professional costumes.

Vichy Goings-On is a charming production, delivering an original script with shining characters. Not a must-see or groundbreaking piece of comedy, but a job well done. Plenty of people here are clearly trying their absolute best.

Running time 1 hour 10 minutes (no interval)
Paradise in the Vault, 11 Merchant Street, EH1 2QD (Venue 29)
Monday 14 – Sunday 27 August 2017
Daily (not 20): 10.20pm.
Tickets on the #EdFringe Website:

RFT on Facebook: @realityfundstheatre


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