Mark and I first were introduced to Spitz and Co by Bristol Ferment at the Old Vic some five years ago and, since then, we’ve been unashamed devotees of this theatre company who never fail to make us laugh. A lot.
We’ve roared to Glorilla, almost spat beer over people whilst watching Gloriator and now the third and final show in the Gloria Delaneuf Trilogy, Les Gloriables, is here and Spitz and Co are still as funny as ever. There has been a change in line up as Lise Boucon steps into the role of Gloria and does it so convincingly that we weren’t altogether sure that Pauline Morel (who played the character in the first two instalments) wasn’t up on stage. It’s testament to the quality of the acting that we were “Is it her? Isn’t it her?” throughout and after the performance. The first performance, that is, because, being Spitz n Co addicts, we actually saw two of the four Wardrobe shows of Les Gloriables.
Suzie Donkin is still Josephine Cunningham, Delaneuf’s wretched, downtrodden tour manager who just wants to please the famous French actress but rarely manages it. Donkin is brilliant in the role, endlessly apologetic with the odd knowing wink or cheeky smile, totally endearing the audience to her. In Les Gloriables, a daft retelling of Les Miserables, she works the audience before the ‘real performance’ begins, introducing herself so earnestly that, if it were your first ever show, you would be forgiven for thinking that she wasn’t yet in character.
Neither of us knows Les Mis, never seen it, never read it. Strange but true. And the lack of familiarity with the plot doesn’t matter one iota. This is a riot through one of the most famous books ever written and I’m pretty sure the pair are stomping all over it with their ridiculous costume changes and 21st Century jokes. They even make nudity funny. There is audience participation, as is the norm for Spitz and Co because that’s really what the team does best. And, crucially, they listen to that audience! This much was evident from the way that the show was tweaked between our first visit on Tuesday and our second one on Saturday. They are hard-wired to please, these women. They have an inbuilt tuning fork so that everything was tighter and, by the time Spitz and Co bring their latest brilliant creation to Theatre Shop Clevedon, we’ll all be peeing our pants.
Do I need to say more?
Les Gloriables is at Theatre Shop, Clevedon on 25th April