4 men, a dozen characters, music, a few props, a daft script, a bloody hoot
Napoleon is holed up just outside Paris (or could that be on a beach in Austria? – Yep, a beach. In Austria!) – if the British attack, will the French be able defend? Will Major Blunt’s disguises be enough to foil the enemy? – he’s a bit of a master, you know, that finger is just … well, it’s just, “Wow.”
We arrive at the Brewery seconds before the show starts and we’re escorted to our seats by Le Navet Bete’s Nick with a warm, humorous welcome. Audience participation is important to this friendly, Devon-based bunch of talented men – “Fondant fancy anyone?” “Here, love, throw a lettuce.” “Shall we dance?” And the audience engages fully, no-one getting embarrassed or stage frightened, everyone having a great big ball.
The four actors work so well together – I particularly liked Dan Bianchi’s dead-pan Yorkshireman, Major Blunt, and nothing less than adored Matt Freeman’s beautiful campery (and, yes, his athleticism, his physique …). I giggled stupidly at Alex Dunn’s gormlessness and shameless spotlight-searching and found myself wailing at Nick Bunt’s yodeling Austrian nun.
I didn’t just laugh; I cried tears, aware of the proper joy coming from my 6 year old next to me and the guffaws of the woman in the seat behind us.
Thank you Alex, Matt, Dan, Nick – we had a riot.
Catch it if you can – family entertainment at its best.
And here’s my 6 year old daughter’s take on it:
Napoleon: A Defence is showing at Brewery Theatre, Bristol, until Sat 1st June
– Review by Becky Condron